Rosedale woman claims sex harassment in suit

By Howard Koplowitz

Cynthia Spence-Green, a Rosedale woman who has worked in group homes for Queens Centers for Progress since 1989, said her supervisor, Daniel Obaseki, “made unwelcome sexual innuendos and remarks toward her,” according to the suit filed March 20 in Brooklyn federal court.Spence-Green claimed Obaseki would refer to himself as her “husband” and that he would make night visits to one of the group homes she was working in to be with her.Charles Houston, QCP executive director, said he was not aware of the lawsuit but said similar claims made by Spence-Green were thrown out “well over a year ago” by the State Division of Human Rights.”It's our position that the claims have no merit,” Houston said. “We did a very thorough investigation here, but we did not find any evidence” of sexual harassment.Obaseki could not be reached for comment.Nadira Stewart, Spence-Green's attorney, said her client is still working for the non-profit while the suit is ongoing. “She had formed a connection with her consumers,” Stewart said, referring to her client's patients.The attorney disputed Houston's claim that the earlier filing with the State Division of Human Rights was dismissed. She said she withdrew the suit so it could be filed in federal court.She said QCP's investigation into the claims were done “several months ago” when women who complained about Obaseki were no longer working for the non-profit.Other female employees were sexually harassed by Obaseki and those who did not comply with his demands were either forced to resign, disciplined or fired, the suit contended.Stewart claimed “in excess of six” women were harassed by Obaseki. The complaint also alleged that QCP inadequately responded to Spence-Green's sexual harassment complaints. A night security guard was hired to patrol the group home where Spence-Green worked, but the company “did nothing to resolve the internal security problem,” according to the suit.Spence-Green resigned in 2006 from her position as night supervisor of the five Bellerose group homes – a job she had been promoted to in 2004 – “because [she] felt frustrated about the sexual harassment…,” the suit said. She was then demoted to direct care worker, the position she held when she started working for the non-profit, which she claimed was “unfair,” according to the suit.Obaseki then said “her life would be made easier if she submitted to his efforts to form a sexual relationship,” the suit said.Spence-Green charged that “QCP's complaint procedure is unreasonable and not designed to resolve sexual harassment issues.”She is seeking $2 million in punitive damages along with attorney fees and front and back pay due to her demotion.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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