Civil Rights & Constitutional Law
The old switcheroo: the curious phenomenon of sexual-harassment-defendant name changes after...
August 29, 2016
Thursday, July 17, 2014
CLEVELAND, OHIO - Today, Tina Barcklay, a former assistant account manager at The HMC Group, filed a civil lawsuit against The HMC Group, sales executive John Prologo, and co-owners and co-presidents James and Steven Scharfeld. Mrs. Barcklay, a married mother of two, alleges in the Complaint that John Prologo [UPDATE: 7/25/2020: JP Prologo] perpetrated a campaign of sexual harassment that culminated in sexual assault. She further alleges that the defendants retaliated against her for complaining about his misconduct, including by terminating her employment.
The Complaint alleges that Prologo's harassment included the following:
The Complaint alleges that Mrs. Barcklay repeatedly reported Prologo's harassment to her immediate supervisor, Kim Sikora, who told Mrs. Barcklay that the Scharfelds would never do anything to Prologo because he made them too much money. The Complaint continues that after Prologo physically assaulted Mrs. Barcklay, she reported his campaign of harassment to co-president James Scharfeld, who likewise did nothing to help her.
The Complaint goes on to state that Mrs. Barcklay took medical leave to try to cope with the anxiety caused by Prologo's sexual harassment but that when she returned, she was not reinstated to her former duties. The Complaint alleges that when she returned from leave, co-president Steven Scharfeld screamed at her for requesting to leave early to attend a counseling appointment (noting during his tirade that he was angry that she had retained counsel) and that shortly thereafter, he terminated her, allegedly for calling off work with a dental emergency. Before her termination, Mrs. Barcklay had been with The HMC Group for nearly 15 years.
Mrs. Barcklay's complaint states claims for sexual harassment, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent retention and supervision, assault and battery, civil liability for criminal conduct, and loss of consortium on behalf of her husband.
The HMC Group is headquartered in Westlake and specializes in collecting delinquent accounts receivable for a variety of creditors. It also handles so-called "early out" billing-self-payments by patients-for more than 40 hospitals nationwide. Its local customers include the Cleveland Clinic, Akron General Hospital, Robinson Memorial Hospital, and St. Vincent Charity Hospital. The company has approximately 85 employees and does business in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Subodh Chandra, the Barcklays' lead counsel, said, "Caveman conduct is unacceptable in 2014. Tina Barcklay should not have been forced to choose between silently enduring John Prologo's sexual harassment and assault or risk losing her job. The HMC Group is a major healthcare collections player and has important relationships with some of this area's most respected hospitals. The HMC Group, and its owners James and Steven Scharfeld, chose profits over people when it chose to indulge the misconduct of its top sales executive."
The suit, captioned Barcklay, et al. v. Head Mercantile Co., Inc. d/b/a The HMC Group, et al., Case No. CV 14 829928, was filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and is assigned to Judge Peter J. Corrigan. Chandra and Ashlie Case Sletvold of The Chandra Law Firm, LLC and Ronald Frederick of Frederick & Berler represent the Barcklays.
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