Labor Voice

May 15, 2000

Electric Boat Torpedoed In Federal Court

Dateline: Waterbury, CT

Union Laborer Judith Dobrich was victorious in a decision awarding her $750,000 in a sexual harassment/gender discrimination case heard before the Honorable Gerard Goettel on Friday, May 12 in Federal District Court in Waterbury Connecticut.

The Defendant was Electric Boat [a division of General Dynamics] based in Groton.

A jury of 7 men & 2 women in the 5-day trial took less than 3 hours to render a unanimous verdict in favor of Ms. Dobrich a member of Hartford Laborers' Local 230.

Hartford Attorney Robert Muchinsky [after 5 years of legal motions] summoned Ms. Dobrich, her three former co-workers, & her three doctors to the stand.

Ophthalmologist Joseph Bentivegna [Rocky Hill] explained that Ms. Dobrich's left cornea was permanently damaged by Herpes Zoster [more commonly known as shingles] & that this was most probably brought on by stress.

Psychologist Pamela Deiter [Glastonbury] described Ms. Dobrich as a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition induced by her exposure to a hostile work environment at EB.

Psychiatrist Eric B. Cohen [West Hartford] also verified Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Dobrich in testimony.

Providence defense attorney Neal McNamara, aided by EB in house attorney Roger Lehr [Groton], called 10 present & former employees including a retired Naval Lieutenant Commander, a director of Human Resources, a production manager & a site nurse.

Despite their credentials, the jury seemed unaffected by their similar testimony.

EB had also hired two outsidePhysicians [forensic psychologist Dr. Harvey Waxman [Boston] & hand specialist Dr. Donald Kelly [Hartford] to examine Dobrich but EB's McNamara inexplicably failed to call either physicians to testify.

The jury found [ among other things] that a hostile work environment existed & that Electric Boat had not taken the proper corrective steps to remedy the situation.

Attorneys McNamara & Lehr sat solemnly as the judge carefully read the jury's decision.

More serious charges involving retaliation by EB management & the causation of mental anguish were set aside by the Honorable Judge Goettel & are on appeal in the 2nd Circuit in New York.

Ms. Dobrich was employed by Electric Boat, through her union, at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories located in Windsor. The work entailed the decommissioning a Naval training center & removing nuclear fuel rods & returning the site to pastureland.

Ms. Dobrich was subjected to various forms of harassment & abuse from her co-workers culminating in a wheeled office chair being kicked at her by a company appointed foreman who was also called as a defense witness.

As a result of that assault, Ms. Dobrich sustained a permanently disabling injury to her wrist requiring surgery by noted hand-specialist Dr. Andrew Gabow [Bloomfield].

Complaints on behalf of Ms. Dobrich were filed in 1995 with The Connecticut Commission On Human Rights & Opportunities & also with The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, followed by the federal lawsuit.

Upon hearing the Friday verdict, Dobrich remarked that her purpose in going to trial was not just self-vindication but more importantly setting an example for others subjected to hostile work conditions by indifferent, vindictive companies & their willing agents. Ms. Dobrich made note of the fact that at least 2 other lawsuits have recently been lodged in regard to a death at EB with the families of the two men involved both suing in regard to workplace violence.

Former union official Stephen Manos testified for Ms. Dobrich.

Manos: "The thuggery of Electric Boat has finally been exposed. They could have resolved this with Judie but they chose to stonewall the justice system.

Electric Boat'smean-spirited actions helped to destroy her health but not her spirit. Electric Boat should have spent our tax money on character-building & truth-telling instead of acting lessons. One witness magically placed himself into a situation as an active participant when, in fact, he was nowhere to be found. He not only lied but another one swore to it. "


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