Two ex-employees allege repeated sex harassment in suit against Concord firm
Both women allege they were forced from Transformer Service Inc. jobs
Two former employees filed suit against Transformer Service Inc., charging the sales manager at the Concord company – who was the CEO’s brother – and a co-worker with repeatedly sexually harassing both of them with crude language and actions.
The suit further charges that CEO Stephen Booth tolerated these actions, and acted out himself sexually with another employee in front of one of the plaintiffs. Both allege that they were forced from their jobs after they complained.
Stephen Booth said after being sent the complaint, “It is interesting how far from the truth it is.”
Both employees – Deborah A. Bellefeuille, an assistant sales manager, and Eileen M. Hughes, a receptionist – are from Concord. They filed the suit Friday in U.S. District Court in Concord, against the company only. Booth and the alleged offending employees are not defendants.
TSI, established in 1952, was one of the first companies to deal with comprehensive environmental services relating to transformers, according to its website. Bellefeuille, started working for the firm as a sales assistant and rose to the position of account management in 2014. According to the complaint – filed by Benjamin King, an attorney who from the Concord law firm of Douglas, Leonard & Garvey – she was repeatedly harassed by Gregory Booth.
Booth, according to the complaint, “regularly came to Ms. Bellefeuille’s desk and pushed his pelvis against her while rubbing her shoulders.” Gregory Booth also allegedly asked Bellefeuille to send him naked pictures of herself and her friends and family and once, in a “creepy whisper,” told her “I know where you live.”
Gregory Booth would also allegedly have crude conversations on the phone in front of her. Bellefeuille said she complained but nothing ever happened, according to the complaint.
Bellefeuille said another co-worker, David Nelson, also harassed her, allegedly sending her “emails containing pictures of male genitalia, sexual videos involving stick figures and sexual epithets” and at one point “chilled” her by allegedly telling her, “You should close your blinds if you’re going to walk around your house like that at night.”
In October 2017, Nelson allegedly reached toward her and “made gestures in which he mimed squeezing her breasts,” causing her to scream.
That incident led to a meeting with the CEO, but Bellefeuille alleged the company retaliated by denying her a vacation request. When she showed the CEO Nelson’s explicit emails, Steven Booth allegedly wanted Bellefeuille to sign a letter, dated March 2, 2018, which her attorney attached to the complaint.
The letter said that “discussion of a sexual nature had occurred” with Nelson, Bellefeuille and Hughes, but it was “accepted by all parties as long as it was on break.” David Nelson “took it further by sending emails with pornographic pictures and text … that appeared to be bordering on a love interest”
Nelson, said the letter, “did not deny the emails” and both Stephen and Greg Booth “stated there will be no more of this and no retaliation. David Nelson agreed and wanted to apologize to Deborah. Deborah accepted David Nelson’s apology.”
The letter was signed by Stephen Booth, but not by Bellefeuille, who said she declined to sign it. Stephen Booth then “proceeded to advise Bellefeuille that she was not producing the way the company needed her to produce,” and that the company planned to demote her to her former position of sales assistant. When Bellefeuille refused the demotion, she was told “keep doing what you’re doing.” And “Maybe you’ll turn it around, but I don’t think so,”
Bellefeuille said such actions “forced” her from her employment on March 19. She filed a complaint with the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on April 9
Hughes also said she was forced to listen to sexual dialogue from Greg Booth and Nelson about Bellefeuille, but some of it was aimed at her. Greg Booth allegedly exhorted Hughes to leave her husband. The complaint alleges that Steve Booth and a female employee made her uncomfortable by both being explicitly sexual in her presence, and when she asked them to stop, the CEO allegedly said, “What are you, jealous?”
After she reported the behavior, the two started engaging in the behavior closer to her, says the complaint. They wouldn’t stop until she threatened in December 2017 to snap photos and send them to the CEO’s wife, the complaint said.
After that, Steve Booth allegedly treated Hughes with “increasing hostility” culminating in an incident on March 14, 2018. Shortly before Hughes was about to leave, the complaint says, the CEO asked Hughes to type a quote. After Hughes said that was a salesperson’s job, Booth allegedly threw the paperwork in her face and punched his fist in his hand in front of her face.
The company terminated Hughes two days later, and she also filed her complaint with the state HRC and the federal EEOC on April 9.
Stephen Booth did not receive the suit by Monday, and when asked about the sexual harassment charges, at first he told NH Business Review that he was “not sure that was it about.”
When told that it was similar to the HRC and EEOC complaints, he said, “We don’t feel they have any grounds.”
After being sent a copy of the suit, Stephen Booth said he did a quick review.
“TSI did respond to the allegations as a group and individually when it was brought to management’s attention,” he wrote in an email. “TSI feels the information in the document does not reflect the truth and the truth will come out.”
The CEO also said that when Bellefeuille filed for unemployment compensation and presented the “same information as in the current document,” TSI won the case.