New York Pawnshop Owner Sued by Feds For Calling His Female Employees "Bitches" and "Whipping Slaves"

Categories: Lawsuits, Misogyny

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Seapod's Cypress Hills location
Seapod Pawnbrokers, a pawnshop with locations scattered across Brooklyn and Queens, is being sued by the federal U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the many racist, sexist, extensively disgusting things that Seapod's owner, Frank Morea, allegedly said to his black and Latina employees. Morea is accused by the feds of a laundry list of sexual and race-based harassment, including referring to his employees as "my Seapod bitches" and "whipping slaves," asking them for "graphic details" about how they used toilet paper and tampons, "joking" about putting cameras in the women's restroom, demanding his employees dance for him and that they rub his belly.

The EEOC is the agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. They seem very unhappy with Morea, whose nickname is "Fat Frank," according to Reuters.

Five of Morea's female employees allege that he subjected them to "sexual comments, commands, and conduct." We'll give you the whole laundry list, straight from the lawsuit:

[O]wner Frank Morea referring to women as "my Seapod bitches," telling women "I'm going to make babies with all of you the Seapod way," asking women for graphic details about how they used toilet paper and tampons, commenting about putting cameras in the women's bathroom, watching pornography on his work computer, cursing at the women in front of customers and coworkers, joking about women being his "whipping slaves," calling women stupid and fat, staring at the women menacingly, and ordering women to: "dance for me," bend over so that he could ogle them from behind, fetch coffee for him, bring him lunch, give him manicures and pedicures, give him massages or rub his belly, cook for him, serve him food, run errands, do laundry, and change the bed sheets in a bedroom attached to one of the pawn shops.

Besides that sort of behavior -- which the lawsuit makes clear the women were "disgusted by" -- Morea allegedly followed that up with a hefty dose of other kinds of hostile workplace behavior, including "excessively criticizing the women's work, changing their schedules, cutting their hours, failing to pay them overtime, threatening them with termination and physical violence, and terminating them without justification."

Morea also subjected his female employees to his enlightened ideas on race, according to the feds, referring to African Americans as "monkeys" and "black bastards," saying that the store smelled because "the monkeys are coming in," telling racist jokes, and saying that he was going to come to work in a new uniform, a Ku Klux Klan hood. He also told his more senior employees only to hire "Spanish girls" that were "cute," and, per the suit, "admitted that he did not like to hire men because he wanted to be 'the dominant one' in the workplace." Morea's father, Ralph Morea, also apparently dropped by periodically to share his own thoughts on the state of the world, which he repeatedly told the women was "fucked up because of the biracial."

The suit says that as far back as 2009, Morea engaged in "unlawful retaliation" against employees who dared to complain about any of the racism and/or sexism. Four of the women who complained to him or other managers were fired within a month. One woman was rehired, then repeatedly subjected to changes in her schedule, being transferred from store to store, cuts in pay, and threats of firing from Morea. In the end, she was forced to resign.

In January, five of the women who had worked for Morea filed a complaint with the EEOC, alleging that their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights act had been violated (that's the one prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin). During the investigation, Morea told the feds that he'd fired the women because of "the subversive behavior of several employees" and "an atmosphere of disloyalty."

The lawsuit asks for backpay and damages to be paid to the women, and for Morea and his employees to be prohibited from engaging in any type of discrimination or retaliation. This isn't Morea or Seapod's first brush with the law: in 2005, he was charged with allowing a violent armed robbery ring to sell stolen jewelry to his stores. He faced up to ten years in prison, but instead went on to do, well, other things.

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