What to Know
- A former John F. Kennedy Airport security worker alleges in a lawsuit her ex-employer was "overrun with misogyny, racism and harassment"
- The employee alleged that managers filmed consensual sex acts between workers at the airport and shared it with her and other workers
- Another employee said she was put at a remote post for refusing managers' advances and forced to stay so long she urinated on herself
A female former security supervisor for the company that protects John F. Kennedy International Airport has filed a federal complaint alleging the outfit was "overrun with misogyny, racism and harassment.”
LaDonna Powell worked for four years at Allied Universal Security Services, which is contracted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to secure the Queens airport. She claims in court papers filed Tuesday that she "was subjected to a shocking campaign of abuse and hazing."
In an exclusive interview with the I-Team, Powell said male managers touched her inappropriately and made lewd comments about her body. Four of those managers are named as defendants in the federal lawsuit. The suit also names two Allied project managers and one executive for the company.
A spokesperson for Allied Universal Security Services, which bills itself as the largest security services company in North America, told the I-Team the company just received the lawsuit Tuesday morning and is reviewing it. She said Allied does not comment on pending litigation.
The Port Authority, which is not named as a defendant in the federal complaint, said the allegations in the suit have been referred to the Port Authority Inspector general "for review."
Powell’s suit alleges male supervisors watched guards engaging in consensual sex acts in security booths via closed circuit television cameras. She added that she was told that "back in the day" she would be "bent over the booths."
"There was livestreaming sex at Kennedy Airport when they’re supposed to be securing the areas," said Powell. It was like a sex fest."
Supervisors in the office also showed cellphone videos of female guards performing sex acts on male bosses, Powell alleged.
Powell, who also worked as a trainer for Allied, said she was fired in May 2016 for speaking out about the continual sexual harassment and offensive racial remarks.
Marsha’nique Irving, who worked as an Allied security guard before quitting earlier this year, said she was also shown explicit videos at work and pressured to have sex with male supervisors.
Both women said they were punished for failing to give in to sexual advances and not given proper bathroom breaks.
Irving says she was left in a remote post for so many hours that she ended up urinating on herself. Powell, meanwhile, said she was forced to urinate in a cup.
"It’s so degrading,” Powell said.
She added that male managers only wanted to hire "cute girls."
"We don’t want them if they’re ugly," she said. "We only want pretty girls working here."
She added, "Some didn’t even have security guard licenses. They didn’t even have driver’s licenses. They were qualified to be a mistress, if that’s what they’re shopping for. But if you’re looking for security, that’s not what they were qualified for."
Powell’s attorneys at Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLP, said there was a "toxic culture" at Allied.
"This is a case about a company that just perpetuated a culture of harassment, of hazing, of discrimination and hostility towards women," said Alanna Kaufman.
Elizabeth Saylor added, "Allied is responsible for this primarily but the Port Authority also needs to take action. We’ve spoken to a half dozen women who experienced the same thing. These are security guards who are paid for by city and state money that are put there to protect people from terrorism and other threats. And inside of protecting people, instead of caring about people’s safety, they’re too busy watching sex shows, too busy harassing others.”
The suit comes after three Customs and Border Protection officers were arrested following an I-Team report exposing allegations of extreme, sexually abusive hazing at Newark Airport.