Amy-Erin Blakely Busts Devereux Foundation with Large Breasts Lawsuit
"No woman should ever be subjected to such sexist and derogatory remarks," said Amy-Erin Blakely, who retained renowned civil rights Attorney Gloria Allred to file a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against The Devereux Foundation, Inc. on her behalf. "I am a highly competent professional woman and I asked only to be judged on my merit," Blakely continued. "Instead, I seemed to be judged on my looks and the size of my breasts. That is wrong and that is why I have decided to file my case. I refuse to be a victim of the Devereux Foundation any longer."
According to the Devereux Foundation's website, "Devereux is a leading nonprofit behavioral health organization that supports many of the most under-served and vulnerable members of our communities. Founded in 1912 by Helena Devereux, we operate a comprehensive national network of clinical, therapeutic, educational and employment programs and services that positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of individuals and families every year. We also focus on research-based prevention initiatives that help children and adolescents develop resilience and strong emotional and social health."
No company should tolerate vulgar, sexual, discriminatory comments and then fire someone after she complains about them. But when the offender is a charitable organization like the Devereux Foundation, which claims "Inspiring Hopes. Empowering Lives," it seems particularly disconcerting.
The wrong focus
Blakely claims that not all employees lived by those company ideals. She was employed there from September 1996 until Oct. 28, 2009. She has a bachelor's and a master's in business, and received numerous promotions and raises. At the time of her termination -- which came the day after she filed her second internal grievance against the company -- she was assistant executive director and oversaw approximately 900 staff members. Some of them seemed more focused on her physical attributes than her professional ones.
If Blakely's suit can be proved, she will be awarded compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney's fees. Blakely alleges that:
- She was told that other employees complained that they could not concentrate in meetings because all they saw were her "big breasts."
- Someone in management talked about how large her breasts were and that she needed to "hide them."
- She learned that she had been nicknamed "Big Tittie Baby."
- She learned that someone in management wanted to sit next to her "so he can look at her big titties" and that he "loves big titties."
- She was also told that a high level executive asked to play tennis with her so that he could watch her in her tennis skirt and "see her big titties bouncing around."
- A false allegation was circulated that Ms. Blakely attended a board meeting where she was a presenter with her "boobs hanging out." In fact she had worn a brown turtleneck sweater and a jacket to the meeting.
- She was told by management "you have very large breasts -- so does my wife, and I have talked to her about you and your breasts."
- She was also told that "you should wear loose fitting clothes or try to hide your breasts because they are too distracting."
- She was told that she was "too sensual" for further advancement to the position of executive director.
No woman in the workplace should be forced to suffer sexually discriminatory and disparaging remarks about her breasts, or their size. It is also a violation of the law to prevent a woman from advancement because she is considered "too sensual," commented Allred.
Allred and Blakley spoke with Fox 11 News about the complaint.
In response, the Devereux Foundation issued a statement saying, "We carefully investigated and concluded her claims are entirely without merit. They are either spurious or twisted in content and context to be deliberately inflammatory. We did not terminate her for the reasons she claims in her suit, and she was not discriminated against. We plan to vigorously defend against her complaints."
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Allred counters, "We have every confidence that Amy will prevail in court and that Devereux's response will be seen to be spurious, completely without merit and inflammatory."
She further comments that, "Amy-Erin Blakely is demonstrating a great deal of courage in speaking out publicly about what she suffered on the job. She is doing this so that no other woman will have to suffer what she had to endure while she was employed by Devereux Foundation. It is 2010. It is long overdue for women to be judged on their merits rather than the size of their breasts."
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Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.