A longtime employee of the city of San Mateo claims a supervisor taunted him about having cancer and erectile dysfunction in front of his peers, according to a lawsuit alleging workplace harassment and discrimination.
Darrell Davis, 64, has worked in the city’s Public Works Department for nearly 31 years during which he developed cancer requiring his prostate gland to be removed in 2003, according to a lawsuit filed by Davis against the city and his supervisor Tuesday.
According to the lawsuit, Davis alleges his direct supervisor Pat Rosenthal repeatedly harassed him due to his age and made derogatory comments regarding his physical conditions and maliciously questioned him about Viagra. He also claims the city was well informed of Rosenthal’s inappropriate behavior for more than a year and failed to take any substantive disciplinary action against Rosenthal, according to the lawsuit.
The suit specifically mentions several city employees including Human Relations Department Director Linda Spady and Interim City Manager Larry Patterson.
San Mateo City Attorney Shawn Mason did not return calls for comment and Rosenthal did not return a message left at his work. Davis’ attorney Mark Le Clerc said he couldn’t comment.
For more than six years, Rosenthal acted as Davis’ supervisor and would call him “grandpa” and “broken” due to his physical conditions, he would also question him about the effectiveness of Viagra and threatened to fire him if he was not “100 percent,” according to the lawsuit.
Part of Davis’ cancer treatment made him sensitive to the heat and the sun, sometimes resulting in hot flashes. Rosenthal would harass him about it saying Davis was like an old lady going through menopause, according to the lawsuit.
Rosenthal frequently did this in front of other employees and around November 2012 said Davis couldn’t perform sexually because his prostate was removed. Thereafter a different city supervisor told Davis he had heard about Rosenthal’s comments and that he would report it to Human Resources, according to the lawsuit.
The city sent a letter to Davis in late 2012 acknowledging the claim and, in March 2013, agreed it was harassment and it would take action against Rosenthal, according to the lawsuit. Shortly after, Rosenthal told Davis and others if he were fired he would take others down with him; yet he continued to work as Davis’ supervisor without interruption, according to the lawsuit.
About two weeks later, the lawsuit states Rosenthal accused Davis of harassment but the city later determined there wasn’t sufficient evidence. Davis then approached Human Resources and reported he felt abused and harassed and was told by city staff they would regularly meet with him to discuss it, according to the lawsuit.
The city never followed through and Rosenthal continued to harass other employees as well, according to the lawsuit. Rosenthal called a 38-year city employee old and told him to retire, according to the lawsuit. David said he heard Rosenthal saying another employee’s wife had him by his balls and later poked him while asking if the man had told “those [HR] bitches” what Rosenthal had said, according to the lawsuit.
Davis complained to Human Resources about being harassed at work and it was hinted that others felt similarly about Rosenthal, according to the lawsuit. Around the holidays, the lawsuit stated Patterson spoke with Davis and his crew and stated he wished he could get rid of Rosenthal but was unable so he would try and make an immediate personnel change. That never happened and Rosenthal has yet to receive any disciplinary action, according to the lawsuit.
Davis intends to prevent the city and Rosenthal from harassing other employees and have the case heard by a jury, according to the lawsuit.
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