N.H. Oil Co. Exec Accused of Sexual Harassment

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N.H. Oil Co. Exec Accused of Sexual Harassment

CONCORD, N.H. -- Fred Fuller, president of Fred Fuller Oil Co., has been accused of sexually harassing two former female employees.

In a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the women say Fuller made inappropriate sexual advances toward them, including groping, verbal innuendos, demands for sexual favors and harassing notes, according to a report in the Concord Monitor.

Fuller, who operates convenience stores and a home heating oil delivery business in New Hampshire, was not available to comment on the charges to Friday.

According to the report, one woman worked at Fuller's convenience store in Moultonboro, N.H.; the other worked for his Hudson, N.H.-based oil company. Both women say they quit working for Fuller because of the alleged harassment.

"I have been very upset and distraught over this entire situation," said Mary Adams, the former employee of Fred Fuller Oil who made the allegations. "I hope that by my coming forward, other women who have had similar experiences with Mr. Fuller will have the courage to come forward, knowing they are not the only ones."

Adams alleges that Fuller began making sexual advances to her around September 2001, threatening her if she didn't comply with his requests. Adams said she always objected to his advances and complained to her supervisor, with no resolution. She quit in February 2002.

Fuller's other accuser, Amy Schlemmer, worked at his convenience store in Moultonboro, N.H. She claims that Fuller touched her inappropriately. The complaint also alleges that Fuller did not have a sexual harassment policy in place at either of his businesses.

Leslie Johnson, an attorney representing both Adams and Schlemmer, said she planned to bring separate assault charges against Fuller on behalf of each woman, which would be combined with the federal suit. This is not Fuller's first brush with harassment accusations. In 1997, a former employee accused him of making lewd remarks and physical advances. Those charges were settled out of court. In 1998, two other former employees filed similar harassment complaints against Fuller with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights. A year later, Fuller was convicted of threatening the husband of another employee with whom Fuller was allegedly having an affair. That conviction was overturned and ordered for retrial by the state Supreme Court because the lower court judge gave improper jury instructions.

In 2000, the Department of Labor ruled that Fuller had illegally fired an employee who had asked for a day off. That ruling was also overturned by the state Supreme Court.

The case filed this week originated with a complaint to the state Commission for Human Rights. Katharine Daly, the commission's executive director, said she decided to forward the charges to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after looking into the past allegations against Fuller and determining that there was a pattern of harassment.

The women seek back wages from Fuller, as well as payment for pain and suffering, counseling for Fuller and a change in employment policy to prevent future harassment. No trial date has been set.