BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — A lawsuit that is filled with allegations of sexual harassment and offensive behavior against the former leader of Servotronics in Elma and the company will move forward.
Last month Kenneth Trbovich resigned as CEO and president and was removed as chairman of the board, “after a nearly six-month-long internal investigation identified grounds for his termination.”
State Supreme Court Judge Emilio Colaiacovo denied the request to dismiss the case against Trbovich, Servotronics, its board of directors and Ontario Knife Company.
A more than 100-page complaint was filed by former employee Deneb Pirrone in Supreme Court back in June.
The complaint accuses Trbovich of engaging in “a pervasive pattern of severely offensive and relentless sexual harassment of male employees like Pirrone.”
The suit accuses him of sexually harassing female contractors with the company. It also states male employees were forced to “visit brothels and engage with prostitutes while on overseas business trips” and forced employees and customers of the company to visit strip clubs.
The company had an independent, outside counsel conduct an investigation.
According to the Servotronics news release, Trbovich was informed on December 1 “grounds for termination” were identified during the investigation. A December 22 board meeting was scheduled to hear from Trbovich, but he issued his resignation the day before.
“At its Dec. 22 meeting, the Board accepted his resignation, removed him as Chairman, and based on the findings of the investigation determined that he committed willful malfeasance that would have justified termination. The Company has not disclosed other findings of the investigation, as they relate to personnel matters,” stated in company news release.
Matthew Miller, Pirrone's attorney, said the complaint contains nearly 20-claims “ranging from overt sexual harassment to sexual discrimination to aiding and abetting all of that type of conduct, as well as claims by my client on behalf of the other shareholders of Servotronics.”
The judge’s issued a 16-page decision that will allow the case to move ahead.
The judge referred to the allegations of misconduct as “outrageous and uncivilized” and noted the company failed to address it.
“And my client is determined to have his day in court and show this type of just ‘outrageous — uncivilized conduct’ — to use the judges words, has no place in society — especially in the workplace and at a public company,” Miller remarked.
Miller said they will now move into the discovery phase and begin work on collecting documents and depositions from the company's the board of directors as well as Trbovich and other employees.
Miller said it is too early to say if other employees would come forward in this case.
Trbovich's attorney, Robert Boreanaz, issued the following comment in regards to the judge's decision.
"The judge dismissed several parts of the lawsuit which at this very early stage is an accomplishment. The remaining parts will now be vigorously challenged. I am confident there will be further dismissal motions later on down the road," wrote Boreanaz.
In a past correspondence with Attorney Boreanaz, he stated "his actions have always been motivated by the by the best interest of the corporation, its staff and shareholders.”
Servotronics is a publicly traded company. The company designs, develops and manufactures parts for airplanes, jet engines and military jets.
It also designs and manufactures cutlery and pocketknives, it employs 340 with an annual revenue of $55.3 million.