A Petco former employee was fired for blowing the whistle on a store manager who sexually harassed female co-workers and abused dogs when grooming them, according to a wrongful termination and harassment lawsuit filed late last month in Superior Court.
Maziell Doll of Flemington filed the suit against the San Diego-based Petco Animal Supplies, claiming she was fired only after she was retaliated against in multiple ways for making complaints.
Doll was hired in September 2010 as a grooming assistant at the store, where John Dooley worked as manager of the grooming station, according to the suit. About three months after being hired, she witnessed the first instance of pet abuse, the suit indicated. She alleges she spotted Dooley “grabbing dogs by the neck, choking them and slamming them against tables or walls.”
Doll was disturbed, but “being new to the job, she was reluctant to complain,” the lawsuit states. Dooley’s alleged abuse continued on a “habitual basis,” even when Doll reportedly asked him to calm down.
At the same time, Dooley routinely sexually harassed Doll and two other female employees by grabbing them by the buttocks and poking their breasts, according to the lawsuit.
“Mrs. Doll was embarrassed by Mr. Dooley’s unwanted touchings and tried to avoid him within the small confines of the grooming salon workplace,” the suit read.
As far as Doll knew, no other employee complained about the matters, and Dooley never was disciplined, according to the filing. Doll finally complained to a superior in September 2012.
The complaints were forwarded up the chain of command to the store’s general manager and a company district manager who assured her that the matter would remain confidential and that “any retaliation would not be tolerated,” the lawsuit indicated. But Doll reportedly was removed from a training program, had her hours changed to inconvenience her and came to work one day to find her grooming tools missing, according to the filing. Less than three months after complaining, she was reportedly let go.
“As a national pet supplies chain, Petco should have taken Mrs. Doll’s complaints that an employee was physically harming pets with the utmost seriousness,” the suit reads. “Instead, Petco unlawfully fired Mrs. Doll to silence her protests and dissuade other employees from making similar complaints.”
“I’m not allowed to talk about that,” Dooley is reported to have said when reached at the Raritan Borough Petco store.
Doll seeks compensatory and punitive damages, plus court costs and reinstatement.