Virginia law firm sued for discrimination and sexual harassment following “cucumber incident”

A Vietnamese former employee at Williams Mullen, a large law firm based in Richmond, Virginia, has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against the firm, accusing it of discrimination and sexual harassment.

The lawsuit states that Robert Eicher, a partner at Williams Mullen, “repeatedly engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviors and made ethnic slurs.  Shortly after (Hanh Nguyen) Allgood’s hire, Eicher approached Allgood in her cubicle, introduced himself and asked if she was from Viet Nam. When Allgood responded in the affirmative, he then gestured toward her genital area and asked whether her vagina was horizontal or vertical.”

Robert Eicher

In what the lawsuit refers to as the “cucumber incident,” Eicher allegedly put a cucumber in his pants pocket and then hugged and pressed the cucumber up against Allgood’s thigh desipte her attempts to pull away from him.  Allgood complained to management and other employees, several of whom told her that they were also victims of the cucumber incident.

The complaint states that Eicher “often walked around the firm dressed as a doctor showing his gloves and asking female staff if they wanted to be ‘examined.’  Eicher also had several sexual relationships with employees and publicly described his sexual encounters with them.”

Douglas Nabhan, another Williams Mullen partner, often made racially derogatory comments about Allgood’s meals insinuating that she prepared her food with dog and cat meat.  Nabhan also referred to Allgood’s ex-husband as “the wet back” because he is Hispanic.

Douglas Nabhan

Allgood claims that no action was taken by the firm to address her complaints of sexual harassment.  As a result, the sexually hostile work environment allegedly became worse for Allgood.  Moreover, the firm allegedly carried out a campaign of retaliation against Allgood as a result of her complaints, and she was ultimately fired in March 2007.

This is not the first workplace bullying lawsuit that was filed by employees against Williams Mullen.  Last year, seven former and current employees filed discrimination complaints with the EEOC claiming a hostile work environment.

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