ASHLAND Details including allegations of racism, tokenism and retaliation for whistle-blowing have emerged in an employment dispute between a former Braidy Industries executive and the company.
Former vice president of marketing and media Jaunique Sealey was blocked by a federal judge in Ashland from filing a lawsuit in California in relation to her termination on March 31. Braidy lawyers have argued that Sealey signed an agreement to take any employment issues through arbitration, a mediation that is binding and is not done in court.
On Friday, Sealey filed a motion to dissolve a temporary restraining order issued Aug. 31. The filing states Sealey entered into arbitration Sept. 9, therefore making any issues before the court moot.
“We cannot comment on the motion to dissolve TRO because it has been sealed by order of the court,” said a Braidy spokesperson. “Braidy, however, adamantly denies Ms. Sealey’s allegations of wrongdoing. Braidy is, and always has been, an employer committed to providing a workplace free of all forms of discrimination. It is Braidy’s intent to defend itself fully and aggressively in the arbitration forum.”
However, the filing stated “Braidy’s real intent in seeking this TRO (temporary restraining order) is for improper settlement leverage against defendant.” The filing accuses Braidy of trying to bleed Sealey of legal fees and costs to “defend against their surprise legal attacks.”
Sealey’s motion also claims Braidy is trying to hide illegal conduct from the public through the confidentialilty imposed by arbitration and sealing legal documents.
The motion alleges that Sealey was hired to fulfill quota in order to minimally fulfill their legal affirmative action obligations to the government. Sealey, a Black woman, endured “incessant sexual harassment, racial harassment and discrimination,” according to her motion.
The motion also alleges Sealey was expected to receive sexual advances from a customer and was referenced as the “n-word.” She was treated “as a disposal servant that Braidy used as a token to present to the public, clients and investors to falsely suggest diversity,” the motion states.
The company is also accused of retaliating against Sealey after she called the Braidy Ethics Hotline and the company’s accounting firm about concerns over alleged shareholder fraud. Sealey claims Braidy sold stock but never issued it in accordance with the initial offering statement.
She said upon bringing up her concerns, the company fabricated a cause to fire her, the motion states.
Sealey further argues she wants to go into arbitration in California, where she conducted most of her business for Braidy. However, she said that the agreement as it is written is illegal in California.
Braidy lawyers filed a motion to strike and seal the motion on Saturday because the motion “is a deliberate end-run around the court’s order to seal, because the motion contains scandalous, impertinent and irrelevant information and because the false, malicious and defamatory allegations substantially and materially threaten Braidy's efforts to secure investments for its aluminum mill.”
On Monday, federal Judge Henry R. Wilhoit Jr. sealed the motion but chose not to strike it from the record.
Braidy has until Sept. 21 to reply to the motion to dissolve the restraining order, per an order issued the same day.
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