Female employee claims she was sexually harassed by a retail exec and wrongfully terminated by the company.
Christen Goldstein Shafkowitz, 46, of Philadelphia has filed a federal lawsuit against Bloomingdale’s, its parent company Macy’s and corporate executive Roger Blazek alleging she and other female employees were the victims of sexual harassment and assault. Shafkowitz filed her lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The filing states, “Shafkowitz began working at the Bloomingdale’s in Willow Grove in 2018, overseeing various departments and planning fashion shows.” She had previously had two decades of experience in retail management. In January of this year, she contends, Blazek, 58, “became general manager of the Willow Grove Bloomingdale’s.”
Shafkowitz states, “Immediately upon Blazek’s arrival at the Willow Grove location, he created a sexually hostile work environment. Blazek commented on the appearance of women who worked for him, suggestively discussed and inquired about personal and intimate matters, and regularly touched and hugged his female subordinates while on the job.”
The suit adds, “On February 8th, Blazek walked behind her, grabbed her by her arms, pulled her into him, put his nose on her neck, and told her that she smelled incredible.” Another woman Shafkowitz worked with walked into the area, causing him to stop. However, soon after, she got on an escalator behind Blazek, “who grabbed her breast.” She was “stunned, humiliated, horrified, and afraid,” according to the suit.
The next day, on February 9th, Shafkowitz had a meeting with Blazek in his office. When she arrived, she “intentionally left the door open and chose to sit at a table while he was sitting behind his desk.” But according to the suit, “Blazek shut the door and pulled up a seat right next to her.” The focus of the meeting became the lingerie department, which Shafkowitz oversaw, and he wanted to know “what lingerie she considered sexy and whether women her age wore lingerie.” Blazek even commented, “I don’t see any women out in the mall that look like you at your age.”
The next days, Shafkowitz and Blazek closed the store together and he asked her another inappropriate question which led her to file a complaint with the company’s human resources department. However, her efforts didn’t pay off.
The lawsuit says, “The investigator started asking Plaintiff about what she (the victim) may have done to provoke Blazek’s sexual harassment and misconduct. For example, the investigator asked Plaintiff what she was wearing when Blazek grabbed her breast. Upon information and belief, other employees who were interviewed as part of the investigation were also asked about how the Plaintiff dressed and what she may have done to invite the harassment and assault.”
Soon after Shafkowitz reported the incidents, the store closed due to the pandemic. When it reopened, her position had been eliminated. Shafkowitz believes she wrongly lost her position, alleging,, “Blazek’s wife and high-level male executives and managers who worked closely with Blazek in his prior corporate role have protected Blazek and improperly interfered with the ‘investigation’ in order to preserve Blazek’s employment.”
In September of this year, Macy’s settled a class action lawsuit concerning its hiring practices and background check policies, paying out $1.8 million. The complaint claimed the retailer failed to disclose to its employees the results of their background checks even when these results led to termination. Ironically, lower level employees were losing their jobs while executives like Blazek were allegedly engaging in misconduct.