Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
A North Carolina company that recently issued a $380-million IPO on Wall Street faces charges of sex and race discrimination from three former or current employees.
Campus Crest Communities, which develops student housing near college campuses, is charged in Charlotte federal court with creating a work environment that is hostile to women and African-Americans. Two plaintiffs in the lawsuits, Nicole McAuliffe and Heather McCormack, say they were terminated after complaining of a sexually hostile work environment at Campus Crest. A third plaintiff, Tammy Hughes-Brown, says she has faced discrimination because she is an African-American.
The story has a strong Alabama component. Ted Rollins, CEO of Campus Crest Communities, is a central figure in an Alabama divorce case that appears to involve rampant irregularities. Sherry Carroll Rollins had sued Ted Rollins for divorce in South Carolina. But contrary to black-letter law, he managed to sue her in Alabama, where she and the couple's two daughters had moved after being forced from their home in Greenville.
As we've reported here at Legal Schnauzer, Ted Rollins appears to have benefited from his connections to Bradley Arant Boult and Cummings, one of Alabama's largest and most conservative law firms. The Birmingham-based firm is defending Campus Crest Communities in the discrimination cases.
Nicole McAuliffe was hired as an area manager at Campus Crest's Charlotte headquarters in October 2008. She was paid a salary of $82,500, with a bonus potential of $50,000. But she quickly discovered that the workplace was hostile and demeaning toward women, driven largely by Chief Operating Officer Brian Sharpe. McAuliffe's complaint states:
Sharpe, on a frequent and/or daily basis, used the term "f*ck" and "f*cking," in his verbal communications in the workplace. Sharpe further referred to women in the office as "cunts," "bitches" and "whores" and referred to Defendant's marketing team as the "prostitute's den." On more than one occasion, Sharpe, in the presence of Plaintiff and others, referred to Shannon King as a "c-word." On another occasion, while on the corporate jet with Sharpe and others, Sharpe made derogatory and misogynistic remarks about Heather McCormack, Defendant's Vice-President of Administrative Operations, calling her a "f*cking b*tch" and threatening to "rip her f*cking head off."
Shannon King, who had been executive vice president and chief marketing officer, resigned from Campus Crest in October. McAuliffe's complaint provides insight into why King and other women might have been uncomfortable at Campus Crest:
Also, Sharpe, in Plaintiff's presence, complained about a race discrimination complaint made by another female employee of Defendant and stated he "couldn't believe she had f*cking done this [made a complaint]" and that "if our employees don't want to work they should f*cking get out." On yet another occasion, Plaintiff heard Sharpe shout sex-based obscenities at McCormack and observed that Sharpe had become so angry and agitated that he popped a blood vessel in his eye.
According to the complaint, Rollins and Chief Investment Officer Mike Hartnett tolerated Sharpe's behavior. In some instances, Rollins contributed to the hostile work environment:
Further, Plaintiff heard Ted Rollins frequently yell at Heather McCormack to "go get the f*cking money." On yet other occasions, Rollins insisted that all attractive female applicants for employment be introduced to Brian Sharpe; alternatively, if Rollins saw an attractive applicant for employment in the office, he would bring Sharpe in to meet her.