Two women sue steel company over sexual assault, harassment | Dishes

A man arrested on multiple counts of sexual assault is accused of groping and molesting two female welders he supervised, in some cases resulting in burns, according to lawsuits filed by the women this month.

Alfreddie Brown Jr. was arrested on Oct. 11, 2022 on three counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual assault, according to the Tangipahoa Community Sheriff’s Office.

In lawsuits filed in state and federal courts, Reggerlyn Maryland and Da’Vanna allege McGee Brown of groping her, forcibly kissing her, and sending explicit text messages to her. The women claim the abuse took place when they were welders at Southland Steel Fabricators in Amite and Brown was their supervisor.

In her lawsuits, Maryland says Brown began making sexual comments at work and sending inappropriate text messages when she started work in March 2020. In October, she says, Brown inappropriately touched her while she was welding, causing her to startle and burn herself. He did this to her again the following month, the lawsuits say.

After the second burn, Maryland applied burn cream to her arm as Brown pressed against her, pinned her against a wall, tried to kiss her and fondled her, the suits allege. They then claim that Brown forced herself again in Maryland in December 2020, yanking her arm and forcing her to kiss.

Maryland burned her arm twice more in March 2021 as a result of Brown’s inappropriate touching, the lawsuits allege. Brown urged Maryland not to report her burns and to treat them herself, the federal suit alleges.

Maryland reported Brown to the company’s human resources department on June 16, 2021, which resulted in Brown being suspended for two days, the lawsuits state.

After that suspension, Brown began threatening her like, “I’ll take you into the woods and no one would hear you,” the lawsuits state. He is said to have advised her not to drive too close to the forest on her way home from work because “nobody would find her” if something happened to her. Brown displayed a gun stored in the glove compartment of his car in Maryland, the lawsuits say.

Maryland filed a second HR complaint in June 2021, but was told she must continue to report to Brown, the lawsuits state.

Maryland took sick leave shortly thereafter at the recommendation of her therapist and remains on sick leave, the lawsuits state.

Southland Steel said in a statement Sunday that the company had a clear anti-harassment policy and that it had conducted a thorough investigation after Maryland’s allegations came to light.

“There may be information that has not yet been provided to us, but we have taken several actions based on the investigation and the information provided to us to date,” the statement said.

The company also said it was only aware of McGee’s allegations after legal action was taken.

McGee began working under Brown seven months after Maryland and almost immediately faced similar harassment as her lawsuits allege. Brown allegedly made inappropriate comments about her in person and via text such as that he would leave his wife for her, he would give her a raise if she sent “pictures” and he wanted her to “have.” [his] baby one day.”

Inappropriate text messages from Brown continued into February, telling McGee he missed her and wanted to be romantic with her, she claims. The lawsuit alleges it did not respond to those messages, except for one, which declined an offer to drink with him at work.

In March 2021, McGee was on the phone with her mother in the break room when Brown cornered her with his body and grabbed her for a “bear hug,” the suits allege. She yelled at him to get off her; Her mother, who was still on the phone, offered to call the police before McGee asked her not to do so for fear she would lose her job, the lawsuits say.

McGee burned her arm the next month after being startled when Brown grabbed her buttocks, the lawsuit alleges. Brown reportedly told her she would be texted if she reported the burn.

Brown later told McGee that if she spoke to male colleagues about his behavior, he would “beat her up,” the lawsuit states. He is also said to have threatened to fire a male colleague if he tried to help her.

McGee retired from the company in May 2021.

Maryland and McGee filed January 13 lawsuits in the US Eastern District of Louisiana against Southland Steel Fabricators and its President Joseph Lombardo alleging gender discrimination, creating a hostile work environment, and constructive firing or termination due to a hostile work environment. They’re seeking a jury trial.

They also have pending state lawsuits against the company and its president along with Brown in the 21st Circuit in the community of St. Helena, where the company is based.

Brown’s attorney declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Southland Steel Fabricators, headquartered in Greensburg, has manufactured steel for ExxonMobil, Sasol, Formosa Plastics and other petrochemical companies. It expanded to Amite in 2019 after purchasing the former Bradken foundry.


Leave a Comment