A lobbyist for the American Association of Landmen is suing one of its top executives for sexual harassment after being subjected to “unwanted provocative touchings” at the office for more than a year.
Holly Carless filed the lawsuit against Executive Vice President Marty Schardt in Tarrant County civil court last week. She is seeking at least $1 million in damages.
Carless is a government affairs liaison who monitors legislation for the Fort Worth-based association and until recently worked for Schardt. Carless also has filed a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission, according to her attorney, Jason Smith.
“She just wanted to do her job in peace but he would not leave her alone,” Smith said.
Asked about the lawsuit late last week, Schardt said, “I’m sorry. I don’t have any comment.”
According to the lawsuit, Schardt allegedly grabbed Carless’s leg above the knee at a lunch where her salary was discussed, and said, “if you leave with me and go to a hotel I can arrange a bonus for you.”
On another occasion, Schardt allegedly came up behind Carless at a copy machine, put his arm around her waist and said: “You look hot, we should get a room,” the suit says.
Last summer Carless and other employees were made aware that Schardt had been looking at a pornographic website on a company computer, demonstrating his lack of self-control in the workplace, the lawsuit states.
“It’s been going on for more than a year. I’ve worked hard to protect and promote the interest of landmen and I don’t think I deserve to be treated like this,” Carless said.
Carless said she complained to the association’s board on at least two ocassions about Schardt’s behavior. The group initiated an internal investigation in late December or early January, but Smith said he is not sure if there has been any formal finding.
Roger Soape, president of the landmen association, did not respond to a request for comment.
Max B. Baker, 817-390-7714