Woman suing Johnson Utilities for sexual harassment, voter intimidation

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. -- A San Tan Valley woman is suing George Johnson, owner of Johnson Utilities, claiming sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, even voter intimidation.

“I will not be bullied,” Carrie Ribeiro told 3TV.  “I just don’t want to see anybody else go through what I’m going through,” said Ribeiro.

Ribeiro said she held a variety of roles with the company and was fired last year.  She says the reason given was personal use of a company cell phone.  However, she believes she was wrongfully terminated.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated her case and issued her a “right to sue” notice.  A formal complaint was filed this month in federal court.

According to court documents, beginning in 2011, “defendant George Johnson would suggest plaintiff leave her husband and go to Las Vegas with him, tell her she had nice legs and wished her skirt was shorter,” along with other suggestive comments.

“You feel bullied and you know it’s not supposed to happen,” said Ribeiro.  Ribeiro claims other female employees were harassed as well.

“I worked there for four years. I can tell you a woman definitely gets treated differently,” said Ribeiro.
In addition to the sexual harassment, Ribeiro also claims Johnson told employees how to vote in several public elections.

According to the complaint, “Johnson used intimidation against Plaintiff and required her to organize, obtain transportation and otherwise influence her and fellow employees in their casting of votes in public elections.”

“I was instructed to rent a bus for some employees to get on, so we could go to the Capitol and vote for who we were told to vote for,” Ribeiro alleged.  “We were like, ‘oh do we have to do this, are we supposed to,’ but it came down to the bus would show, you’d get on it, and if you weren’t on it, you’d get let go.”

3TV made numerous attempts Monday to contact George Johnson and Johnson utilities for a response but our multiple calls went unreturned by our deadline.

Ribeiro’s attorney, Alan Wittig, says Johnson has 30 days to respond to their complaint.  Carrie Ribeiro says if she has to go to trial, she will.

“I’m going to fight this to the end,” Ribeiro told 3TV.  “It’s never been about the money.  I don’t care.  I’m fighting for the women that get bullied at work.”