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Nurse, formerly a stripper, alleges sexual harassment in Markleysburg

| Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A registered nurse who tried unsuccessfully to hide his past employment as a stripper has accused a Fayette County personal care home and two of its administrators of sexual harassment.

In a civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Roy E. Dreshman Jr., 55, of Munhall, Allegheny County, alleges the harassment began two months after he was hired as a nurse at Henry Clay Villa in Markleysburg in 1997. He alleges he was continuously propositioned, referred to as a "pretty boy" and subjected to unsolicited touching until he was terminated in 2008.

Dreshman filed the lawsuit after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed a similar complaint he had filed earlier. In a copy of the EEOC complaint that is attached to the federal lawsuit, Dreshman indicated he told no one of his work as a stripper when he was hired, but it was made public when two co-workers recognized him.

After that revelation, Dreshman alleged, some employees passed around photos of Dreshman as a dancer. Others requested lap dances, and some asked him to dance with the residents or to perform at bachelorette parties, he alleged.

One employee hung on her office wall a poster showing Dreshman and other performers in a male revue, according to the complaint. Dreshman said he had given the poster to the employee so she would stop inquiring about it in front of others.

"She promised to keep it private, but she put it up in her office," Dreshman wrote. "I never suspected she would display it in her office."

Dreshman said new employees were quickly told of his past profession, and some of the care home's residents participated in the discrimination.

"Residents made comments like: 'Oh, my gosh, you are one of them go-go boys,'" wrote Dreshman in the EEOC complaint. "Or residents also comment that I am a 'hootchie-kootchie' dancer."

Dreshman alleges that he was discriminated against because of his gender and age. He accused the facility of favoring female nurses for full-time positions. He said he was issued warnings for failure to complete paperwork, but younger nurses who did the same were not disciplined.

As a result of the harassment, Dreshman's attorney, Lois Glanby of McMurray, said in the lawsuit that subordinate licensed practical nurses did not take Dreshman seriously in his role as a registered nurse.

"LPNs were insubordinate when he, as the RN supervisor, gave orders, because of his past, stating he was only there because he was a 'pretty boy' and that males did not 'belong' in the nursing field," Glanby wrote.

Dreshman accused management of retaliating against him when he complained, instead of initiating an investigation. The retaliation escalated when he threatened to file the EEOC complaint, according to the lawsuit, ultimately resulting in his dismissal in February 2008.

In addition to the care home, named as defendants are its director of nursing, Kathy Nogroski; its administrator, Annette Buffer; the company that manages the facility, AltaCare Corp. of Georgia; and AltaCare's Pennsylvania-based corporations — Health Prime and HP/Markleysburg Inc.

Dreshman alleges Nogroski knew of the harassment but instead of stopping it, encouraged or participated in it. He said Buffer took no action when he went to her with his concerns, according to the lawsuit.

Nogroski and Buffer yesterday declined to comment. Douglas Mittleider, AltaCare's president, and Evelyn Brown, AltaCare's executive vice president, did not return phone messages seeking comment.

Dreshman is seeking back pay, compensation for lost benefits and compensatory damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress.

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