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Party company pays Paramus teen $15,000 in sex harassment case

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Paramus party host company will pay a teenaged former employee $15,000 and have its workers undergo anti-discrimination training to settle her allegations of sexually harassing her and then firing her when she reported it.

Under terms of a settlement agreement, Screamin’ Parties will make the payments in three installments over the next year, the state Division on Civil Rights announced this morning.

Company owners also have agreed to put in place specific anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, including effective complaint procedures.

“This is a fair settlement that resolves troubling allegations,” Division Director Craig T. Sashihara said. “This could have been anyone’s teenage child working at his or her first job.

“Our daughters and sons entering the workplace are entitled to the same protections against sexual harassment as more experienced workers, and we are committed to ensuring that they receive those protections.”

Screamin’ Parties features arena areas containing inflatable slides, obstacle courses and “bounce houses,” among other attractions.

The company hosts parties for children between 2 and 12 years old. It also has “open bounce” time when the facilities are available for public use on a walk-in basis.

The girl, who still lives in Paramus, was hired to work as a party host/kitchen employee at the Screamin’ Parties West Nyack location and subsequently transferred to the company’s location in South Paramus in February 2011, the division said.

In her complaint, she alleged that from April 2011 until the end of her employment in mid-December 2011 she was regularly “subjected to unwelcome, suggestive overtures by her male supervisor.”

“Can I hit it in the morning?” one text message read.

“Meet me in the closet” said another.

The girl said she also became aware of several inappropriate workplace comments he made about her.

One time, she said, she was told the supervisor informed a male co-worker that there would be a “race” between the girl and another at the business to who would be the first to give him oral sex.

She complained in November 2011 to owner Christina Sachs and a month later was informed by another co-owner, Howard Abraham, that she was being fired for breaching company policy, the division said.

Specifically, he said she’d used her cell phone in the play area, “a violation for which other employees had previously received only verbal warnings.”

Screamin’ Parties denied the allegations.

Earlier this year, however, the Division on Civil Rights found probable cause to pursue both the sexual harassment complaints and the unlawful termination claim.

Under the settlement agreement, Screamin’ Parties denies any liability or wrongdoing. As part of the deal, it will remove any record of the girl being terminated and, instead, indicate that she resigned in good standing, the division said.

Deputy Attorney General Farng-Yi Foo and Investigators Vladimir Vitella and Ana Limo-Magras handled the case on behalf of the state.

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