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Hempstead Township faces sexual harassment suit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Two former employees of the Hempstead Sanitation Department have filed a sexual harassment and race discrimination lawsuit claiming their supervisor, Frank Pepe, offered perks and gifts in exchange for sexual favors.

The $36 million lawsuit also names the town of Hempstead and several town officials.

Pepe admits he had an affair with Janine Smith, a former clerical worker, from 2001 to 2003, but he says it was consensual. Smith claims that while the affair may have been consensual, it was unwelcome. Pepe allegedly took Smith to motels during lunch breaks and had her perform sexual favors in his town-issued car.

Former intern Nicole Starks claims that Pepe used his position to pressure her into a sexual relationship in 2003. At trial, plaintiffs’ attorney Frederick Brewington said Pepe viewed black interns as “fresh meat,” Newsday reported.

Attorneys for Hempstead countered that Smith did not complain about harassment until Pepe showed an interest in Starks. When the women complained in July 2003, the town investigated promptly, its attorneys argued.

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