State Sexual Harassment Trial Centers on PJs
By Margaret Lyons in News on Mar 20, 2008 8:34PM
Bosses, don't call your employees "boy toy[s]." And don't stay in hotel rooms with them. And really, as a state employee, you probably shouldn't have your "special assistant" pick up your dry cleaning, especially when that includes what the Trib calls "undergarmets." Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Carlos Estes testified today in a sexual harassment suit against his former boss, chief of staff in the Illinois Department of Human Services Teyonda Wertz. Estes says he was fired after rejecting Wertz's come-ons; Wertz says he was fired for misuse of state vehicles. Estes, a high-school drop-out, was making $70,000 a year as a Wertz's assistant. He says he realized his boss was coming on to him when she got jealous of one of his female friends, and when Estes tried to smooth things over, she came on to him even more. He told her wasn't into her.
Weeks later, the two found themselves at a job training seminar in Springfield. Estes didn't have a hotel room, Wertz did, but their testimonies differ on whose idea it was to share. From the Trib:
After dinner together, the two went up to Wertz's suite, [Estes's lawyer] Dana Kurtz said. Wertz changed into silk pajamas and climbed into her bed, she said.
Wertz told Estes as he sat on a couch to take off his clothes, Kurtz said. Estes went into the bathroom and changed into pajamas, she said.
After Estes exited the bathroom, Wertz allegedly told him, "I want you to make love to me or else you'll be fired."
He refused, telling her it wouldn't be appropriate, Kurtz said. He spent the night on the sofa bed, while Wertz slept in the bed in a separate room, she said.
Wertz says she did no such thing.
Her choice of sleepwear has become a major part of this he-said, she-said--and not just because the silk jammies were part of the dry cleaning Estes picked up for her. (Who gets pajamas dry cleaned?! Good lord.) According to the Sun-Times, "Wertz said the silk pajamas she wore had consisted of a three-piece outfit: a top with long sleeves, pants and a jacket." Kurtz asked if they were paisley, but Wertz said they were houndstooth, "a checked pattern of gold, brown, gray and platinum." A little Blanche Deveraux for our tastes.[S-T, Trib 1, Trib 2, Trib 3, S-T 2, photo viaDHS]