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Litigation

Woman files sexual harassment suit against her manager in American Canyon

Citing months of on-the-job sexual harassment, a woman is suing not only the manager whom she says harassed her but also the company that didn’t do anything about it, according to a lawsuit filed in Napa County Superior Court last month.

The 41-year-old married Solano County woman, Luuanna Banks, says that her boss at Acorn Paper Products in American Canyon made crude comments to her and sexually harassed her during the entire three months she worked there, then, in an act of retaliation, wrongfully fired her.

Her alleged harasser is Ron Valtierra, wine packaging manager at Acorn Paper Products and Banks’ immediate supervisor between July and October 2016. Acorn Paper Products, a division of Oak Paper Products Company Inc., is a supplier of packaging materials.

David L. Weissberg, Acorn Paper Products CEO, said that the company is not allowed to comment on pending litigation. Valtierra also declined to comment, saying he would refer the request to his lawyers.

Right when Banks began working as a customer service representative at the sales office and distribution warehouse on Dodd Court, Valtierra got her phone number from her resume and began texting her “excessively,” and invited her to his house several times, according to the suit.

Banks says that she experienced harassment practically daily with Valtierra making comments about and “leering” at her breasts and butt. The suit alleges that when she would excuse herself to go to the restroom, he would say “Can I watch?” and when she returned he’d say “I could’ve watched.”

Valtierra made sexually charged comments to Banks, grunted when she walked by and would drop something intentionally and ask her to pick it up two to three times a week despite knowing she always refused, according to the lawsuit. The suit alleges that Valtierra would tell her that he wasn’t wearing underwear, that he would do “private things” while looking at the photo of her on her business card and even offered to buy Banks a sex toy if she would use it in front of him.

“His conduct was scary and intimidating,” Banks said in her complaint of employment discrimination.

Banks began “dressing down,” bringing sweaters to work and became suspicious that Valtierra may have put a camera in the bathroom, according to the suit.

Banks reported Valtierra’s behavior to another supervisor, but no investigation was made into the allegations nor was any action taken to protect her from him, according to the suit. Eventually, the suit alleges, after Banks repeatedly declined Valtierra’s advances and asked him to stop, she was fired.

“I’m shocked at what appears to have been Oak Paper Product’s deliberate refusal to investigate or take immediate corrective action to protect their employee Luuanna Banks from enduring daily sexual harassment and shockingly abusive behavior by her supervisor at their American Canyon facility,” said Banks’ attorney, John D. Winer of Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP out of Oakland.

“It is incomprehensible to me that Oak Paper Product’s upper management would continue to protect this serial predator despite warnings from co-workers and even a female supervisor.”

Banks is seeking various damages, attorneys’ fees, suit costs and a trial by jury.

A case management conference is scheduled for Oct. 18 in Napa County Superior Court.

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Maria Sestito is the former Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She now writes for the Register as a freelancer.

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