Philadelphia Officers, Elected Officials Raise More Concerns about Sexual Harassment at U.S. Security Associates Inc.
Dozens of security officers who protect Philadelphia’s cultural institutions, businesses and public buildings rallied last week to urge U.S. Security Associates Inc. (USSA) to clean up its act. The rally was organized not long after a local security manager was accused of sexual harassment and found leaving his business cards of his pornographic side business for all to see at his worksite.
The officers at the rally spoke out publicly against USSA’s record of sexual harassment in the workplace and called on the company to do a better job of providing a safe environment for its employees.
USSA, the fourth largest security contractor in the United States, has a history of sexual harassment lawsuits across the nation. Most recently, two female employees in Pennsylvania have filed sexual harassment charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission. The workers were subsequently terminated after complaining to their supervisors about the harassment.
One of the former employees, Lisa Garner, worked as a security officer at the Philadelphia Nursing Home for 11 years, including the three years USSA has been providing security services there. She turned down unwanted advances by her manager, who was also moonlighting as a recruiter for a porn magazine.
“I was sexually harassed by my security manager,” Garner said. “When I complained, my manager’s supervisor refused to listen to me. Instead, he fired me from my job.”
Speaking at the rally in support of the workers were Pennsylvania State Representative Kenyatta Johnson and Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown.
“When a woman of any stripe is mistreated, all of us are mistreated,” Councilwoman Brown said. “When U.S. Security Associates has not one but two sexual harassment complaints in our city, something is seriously wrong.”
Over the past year and a half, the company has been held liable for more than $4 million in judgments and consent orders over sexual harassment claims in other states. In one case, the court cited “USSA’s cavalier attitude toward sexual harassment in the workplace…” In another case, the company agreed to pay $1.95 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of seven female USSA employees.
Security officers are responsible for protecting thousands of Philadelphia’s residents, buildings and institutions, and have already felt increasing pressure on their jobs and responsibilities after cuts to both the Pennsylvania State Police and Philadelphia Police. Safety and respect within their own company should be the last thing officers have to worry about when working hard to protect the public.
After the filings in Philadelphia, the question remains: How many more employees have to suffer or lose their jobs before USSA addresses management problems and sexual harassment in the workplace?