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Hollywood Video Hit With Sexual Harassment Suit

20 Oct, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

Eleven women who worked in Hollywood Video stores in the Bronx, N.Y., and Hoboken, N.J., are suing the company for $50 million, alleging the company allowed a manager's sexual harassment, penalized them for complaining and let the man return to work as a manager at the Bronx store even after he was arrested for raping a female employee.

The lawsuit, filed in the New York Supreme Court for Bronx County, alleges that store manager Charles Cabble, 24, “engaged in acts of sexual harassment, rape, assault, derogation and retaliation” against the plaintiffs and that his managers -- regional manager Gary Yerger and district manager Scott Schneider -- failed to take appropriate action against Cabble and instead allowed or participated in retaliation against the employees who complained.

Attorney Michael Carlinsky, who is acting as outside counsel for Hollywood in the case, said Hollywood and the individual defendants have filed a motion for dismissal of the case.

“Based on our full factual investigation, we do not believe the allegations made by these plaintiffs have merit,” he said.

Hollywood Video general counsel Eric English did not respond to requests for comment.

Cabble was arrested in March and is in custody at Rikers Island.

He faces one count of first-degree rape, one count of third-degree rape, one count of attempted rape in the first degree and 13 counts of first degree sexual abuse in connection with alleged attacks on five women ranging in age from 17 to 29, according to the Bronx County District Attorney's office. If convicted on all counts, he could face a maximum of 135 years of jail time.

Attorney Ken Thompson, who represents Cabble in the criminal case, declined comment for this story.

Cabble began harassing female employees in a Hoboken, N.J., store starting in December 2001, according to the complaint. Female employees complained to Yerger, Schneider and Hollywood's employee relations department, but the suit alleges they protected Cabble because his stores were among the chain's best performers.

Meanwhile, the women were allegedly accused of stealing from the stores, given shorter hours, fired, further harassed and/or forced to quit after they complained, according to the suit.

“At no point did Hollywood Video employer defendants seek to terminate Cabble or otherwise stop his unlawful actions,” according to the complaint. “To the contrary, they permitted Cabble to retaliate against anyone who complained about his actions.”

The civil case on behalf of the 11 women seeks damages for alleged sexual harassment, assault, retaliation, constructive termination, retaliatory discharge, negligent supervision or retention, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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