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When Ignoring Sexual Harassment Turns Deadly

August 18, 2014 Legal Team

Alisha Bromfield worked as a flower arranger for Grand Flower Growers. Often, she was assigned to make arrangements at a local Home Depot store in Cook County, Illinois. Bromfield, 21, was sexually harassed by her supervisor, Bryan Cooper, but no matter how many times she reported it to both Grand Flower Growers and Home Depot, her complaint fell on deaf ears.

After repeated attempts at an intimate relationship, Bromfield finally stood up for herself and declined to go out with Cooper. After her rejection of him, Cooper violently murdered Bromfield.

Now Bromfield’s mother is suing both Grand Flower Growers and Home Depot for wrongful death. Though both victim and assailant worked for Grand Flower Growers, they were monitored and supervised by Home Depot, thus both companies are named in the suit. Sherry Anicich, the victim’s mother, filed the suit in Cook County Court on behalf of her daughter and unborn granddaughter. Bromfield had been seven months pregnant at the time of the violent encounter.

Anicich alleges that both companies failed to take action when her daughter reported Cooper’s sexual advances and derogatory name-calling. Cooper would often call Bromfield a “whore” or “slut.” Though he had a history of violent behavior and a “pattern for misconduct,” the suit also alleges that upper management from Grand actually facilitated opportunities for the two employees to be alone on shifts so Cooper could perpetuate his advances.

Additionally, Cooper had failed to complete an anger management course that had been mandated by Grand Flower Growers for purportedly throwing objects at employees he had become angry with. This, Anicich claims, showed that the companies had knowledge of his volatile behavior.

Bromfield had agreed to attend an out of state wedding with Cooper but continued to be adamant that she would not have a permanent relationship with him. Upon her refusal, Cooper became violent, physically assaulting Bromfield then murdering her.

Cooper has since been sentenced to two life terms, while mother Anicich seeks compensatory and punitive damages in the wrongful death suit.

This is a cautionary tale of listening to employees, but also for employees to continually report harassing behavior. If an immediate manager will not help or is the one to harass you, contact upper management or human resources. If the environment becomes so intolerable that any reasonable person would quit, submit your resignation. As always, consult an attorney for any legal action.

Image Source: NBC