A woman from Prior Lake has sued her former Texas employer, claiming she was fired after being sexually harassed by a company executive during a job-related interview held at a Mall of America restaurant last year.
Marci Hocevar, 53, recently filed a lawsuit against Molecular Health in Montgomery County where the German biomedical company has offices in the suburbs north of Houston. Hocevar worked remotely in Minnesota as an executive account director at the time she was let go.
She had been on the job for only six weeks when Tom Strilko, the company's senior vice president of sales, traveled to Minnesota to determine if Hocevar would continue in her position. Strilko insisted on holding the meeting at Hooter's, a restaurant where waitresses are clad in short shorts and tank tops. Strilko told Hocevar that he "enjoyed being served by attractive females," the complaint reads.
Hocevar objected to meeting at Hooter's and the meeting was held at another restaurant.
During the January 2016 meeting, Strilko subjected Hocevar to "sexual harassment and/or sexually discriminatory conduct and statements," and expressed concern that her children would interfere with her ability to do her job, the complaint states.
Hocevar took her concerns to her immediate supervisor, Bruce Mrachek, stating she objected to Strilko's conduct. Mrachek forwarded his report to Molecular Health's Human Resources Department. A month later, in February 2016, both Hocevar and Mrachek were fired, the complaint said.
Hocevar said she was fired because of her gender and because she opposed the sexually harassing and discriminatory conduct.
In her suit, Hocevar is asking for between $200,000 and $1 million in back pay and future pay and for damages covering lost benefits, legal fees and emotional pain and suffering, court documents show.
Several calls to Hocevar's lawyer were not immediately returned.
Andy Edison, the attorney representing Molecular Health, said Hocevar's claims are false.
"We think the claims raised have absolutely no merit, and we look forward to our day in court," Edison said. "We will vigorously defend the company."