A former employee at a Missouri Chewy plant said she was sexually harassed by some male colleagues and then retaliated against for reporting it, according to a recent lawsuit.
The federal lawsuit filed last Tuesday says the victim, a woman, began working as a fork lift operator for Chewy in September 2022. The lawsuit doesn’t list a location for the plant, but according to the Chewy website, the fulfillment center in Belton is the only Chewy location located within the Western District of Missouri, where the suit was filed.
The woman said in the lawsuit she was verbally harassed and later groped by colleagues. She said despite multiple complaints made to human resources at her branch of the dog food and supplies distribution company, nothing was done.
The Star could not immediately reach attorneys for the woman or a spokesperson for Chewy for comment.
Shortly after starting the job, male coworkers started offering candies to the victim, according to the lawsuit. A few weeks later, after frequently accepting the candies, a male colleague gave her another, saying the candy had been “bouncing around on [his]sweaty balls all day,” and that “[he] wanted to see how [she] would suck on it,” according to the lawsuit.
The woman said she learned it was an inside joke between some of the men in the warehouse to rub candy on their genitals and then offer it to women to suck on, the court filing shows.
The day after this incident, the woman reported the behavior to a lead trainer, who then forwarded the sexual harassment claim to human resources, court records show. About a week later, the woman said she was informed that HR had dismissed the complaint.
From there, the woman said the lead trainer and his direct supervisor again took the complaint to HR, who again declined to investigate.
In the meantime, the victim said some of the men continued to pass out candy to women and make vulgar comments, including about the women’s appearance, such as: “She doesn’t get any candy because she is not good looking,” according to court filings. Eventually this included male colleagues making lewd comments about the size of her breasts.
In October, only a few weeks into the woman’s employment, another fork lift driver, a man, fixed her harness and in doing so groped her breasts without her consent, she said.
The victim said when she pushed the man away, he laughed and said: “I’m just making sure you are in it properly, you have such a nice little ass that you need to tighten it up down there and loosen it up, up there because your boobs are so big,” court records show.
After this happened, the woman reported it directly to HR herself. As a result, she said, Chewy offered to move her to another shift, but said her pay would be cut by $3 an hour. She declined the offer because of the pay reduction.
In November, the woman was injured and told HR that she needed to take a leave from work, court records show. She said HR told her they would inform her when she could return to work.
At the time of the lawsuit filing, Chewy leadership still had not informed her she could return to work, court records show. She has not been paid by Chewy since going on leave and has since gotten a different job. She said in court documents that, in the end, she was essentially terminated.