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.’,11 and Associates 1117 West 5th Street Austin, Texas 78703 REALTOR’ Representing all types of properties In Austin and Central Texas Interesting & unusual property a specialty. 477-3651 E cn ANSWERING 0,04.01t44, e eltt S E R V I, C E KATHLEEN O’CONNELL P.O. BOX 3005 AUS11N, TX 78764 477-8278 Dean told Bushell that she was flattered but denied his advances. “And I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to get out of here. He’s going to hurt me,’ ” she remembered. She left. Returning to the office, Dean demanded that Bushell stop propositioning her. “That’s when he told me that he knew I wouldn’t tell his wife,” she said. “It wasn’t what he said. It was how he said it. . . . What he was saying to me was, ‘Okay , well, you like your job, don’t you? Try telling her.’ I knew exactly what would happen.” By this time, she avoided Bushell as much as possible. Once, he interrupted her conversation to declare that everything had a price \(Malone said this was he staved at Dean as he made the point. “And for the first time in all those months,” Dean admitted, “I knew that everybody knew . And I lost it.” It was the only time she yelled at him: ” ‘This is one piece of ass that cannot be bought! It doesn’t have a price!’ And I know I was screaming. And he said,, ‘Are you talking to me?’ You know, my God, I was in tears, I was screaming. I said, `Yes, I’m talking to you.’ ” He stormed out furiously. “You didn’t embarrass him in front of anybody,” Dean explained. “You didn’t cross his authority. -I mean I was his property. He’d already made that clear to everybody in that company and any other produce company around. And I found that out later.” She spoke deliberately, solemnly. “And it was just the degradation of it.” Dean claims that after she challenged Bushell he overwhelmed her with work, more than she could handle. The company argues that work increased for everyone at the time. “He said he never had to fire anybody,” she recounted. “He could force them to quit.” The company drivers had threatened to strike, and when Dean went to Bushell’s office to discuss the strike and wage freeze, he approached her. “I know that I took a step back because I was afraid he was going to hit me. But he put his finger in my face. And he said that for every goddamned Mexican out there he could hire ten more. And for every nigger out there, he could hire ten more. And he could do my job,” she remembered. Dean never reported the harassment to Bushell’s superiors. She said that she knew that they would ignore her complaints and believed that Gerald Ferrell, vice president in charge of operations for Syndex, had no respect for women. She said that “his favorite saying [about women] was ‘Give them enough rope and let them hang themselves.”‘ Ferrell had once told her to clean up some spots on the rug and Dean had done it. Dean admitted that Cary Hoffman, president of the company, had always been nice to her. \(She didn’t mind getting him she never broached her problems with him. Fielding remarked, “The plaintiff would paint this company as a company that didn’t care. The truth is the company didn’t know.” Mary Dean finally filed suit when she was told by a former co-worker that a boss at Smith Produce had denied the truth of her story. He had said that if she had been harassed, she would have filed suit. The 10-day trial, which ended in September, was torturous. Four times Dean walked out. She sat on the bathroom floor and wept. The defense attorneys “said bad things about me, my daughter, my husband. They tried, with my sister, to bring my dead mother, my father, into it,” Dean said. One defense against a sexual harassment lawsuit is to establish that a person “welcomed” the behavior. The company argued that Dean encouraged sexual advances by using foul language, telling dirty jokes and wearing revealing clothes. In the end, a jury of eight women and four men awarded $195,000 to Mary Dean and $123,000 to her attorneys, Malcolm Greenstein of Austin and Larry King of San Francisco \(both of whom have been cited as “Good Guys” by the Texas was 10-2; two of the men on the jury voted for Bushell and the company. “Everyone wants to . believe that the woman invited it,” commented Lucia Gilbert, UT-Austin professor and sexual harassment authority at the trial. “Attraction has nothing to do with it.” Harassment is an abuse of power. Sexual harassment is “persistent unwanted behavior,” Gilbert explained. During her testimony she compared harassment with rape and incest. She made the latter link because the incidents usually occur after a boss has developed a close working relationship with his employee: when he approaches her sexually, he violates the trust. She described the profile of a harasser: a married man not really a Don Juan with power or authority who is “selfabsorbed” and so narcissistic “that [his] needs have to be met” and who is often involved in a bad relationship at work or home. \(Bushell admitted to having Harassment most often occurs when there is no policy against it, no training of supervisors to recognize harassment, no one to talk with about problems, according to Gilbert. She strongly recommended that all employers educate employees and establish policies against sexual harassment. Bushell has been “demoted” and moved to a non-supervisory job in Houston, according to Syndex. Mary Dean’s saga has not ended. As of this writing, a judgment has not been entered in the case. She stoically anticipates an appeal of the judgment. Looking back on the case, she commented, “I wanted the truth and an apology, and I would have dropped it.” No one ever apologized. “I didn’t want to hurt anybody. But I found myself being so hurt,” she said. Syndex says they offered Dean her job back but she refused it. According to Dean’s attorney, Greenstein, the jury found that the “unconditional offer of reinstatement” was not made in good faith. If the offer were in good faith, the company would have had to pay fewer damages. ” I was naive enough to believe that if I did a good job, that was all I had to do.. . . I found out that not only are job requirements doing your job well and working overtime and doing it to the best of your ability and sacrificing, but you’ve got to sleep with somebody, too. And I’m sorry. But I’m not going to sleep with somebody unless I want to. Losing that job was bad. But having to look at yourself and realize that you were not human, you were a commodity. . . . It’s got to change. Can they weigh you up and charge a price for you?” Mary Dean is a self-professed conservative who voted for Ronald Reagan. She has, she said in response to a question about her experience, something to say to other women: “I want them to fight it. Because it’s not going to change. And we’ve been quiet for too long. They told me that I was angry. No, I wasn’t angry until I saw what they did.” “I didn’t actually see what they did until the trial was over. ” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7