Two Niagara County Community College (NCCC) employees are accusing a college administrator of sexual harassment.
According to the lawsuit filed last week in State Supreme Court, former Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs, Mark Mistriner repeatedly harassed two employees. It accuses him of subjecting a nontenured employee to a hostile work environment and quid pro quo harassment based on her gender.
The 19-page lawsuit, filed by attorney Catherine Creighton, names two plaintiffs: Josephine Brevetti-Runkle, who witnessed the alleged harassment of the above referenced employee, and Danielle Tomczak, who said she was also harassed.
It says Brevetti-Runkle witnessed Mistriner repeatedly make comments about the employee's appearance and touch her on multiple occasions, despite her repeatedly telling him not to touch her. A majority of the harassment allegedly occurred inside the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.
One of the allegations says while at a culinary conference in Hyde park, NY, at approximately midnight, Mistriner texted the employee saying "come have drinks with me in my room." The lawsuit said the employee became upset, and showed Brevettie-Runkle the text at which point she claims she went to Mistriner's room and pounded on his closed door saying "She's not having drinks with you! Do not text her again!"
The employee allegedly refused to complain for fear she would not gain tenure. The suit claims Mistriner also threatened the employee to "be careful," "you don't want to get shipped back to Sanborn" because she was "going to need tenure." Sanborn is where the college's main campus is located.
But, Brevettie-Runkle did take the concerns to other top college officials, so the lawsuit says, and they did nothing.
Court papers say Mistriner and other administrators retaliated against Brevetti-Runkle, who has tenure, by reassigning her to an undesirable job.
In Tomczak's case, she worked as the assistant manager of dining services. The lawsuit claimed she was harassed by Mistriner and also was retaliated against with a job reassignment she didn't seek.
In a statement, the college said "NCCC takes all allegations of improper conduct seriously and has strong policies that require appropriate professional behavior. We cannot comment on the specifics of the lawsuit. As a personnel matter, that is the extent of our comment."
Read the full lawsuit here.