Former employee of Hurley Development brings lawsuit against company, owner and others

Former employee Jill Meyer says she endured ‘severe sexual harassment and religious discrimination’ while working for the company

Courtesy of Hurley Development Facebook page

On Aug. 2, local employment attorney Colin McHugh of Navigate Law Group filed a lawsuit on behalf of former Hurley Development employee Jill Meyer alleging that Hurley Development and its various named owners, officers and directors engaged in discrimination based on sex leading to a hostile work environment at the company for Meyer. The lawsuit names the Hurley Development company, owner Ryan Hurley, current Director of Development Scot Brantley and former Construction Director Vladimir “Vlad” Rakach as defendants.

According to a news release from Navigate Law, the 24-page complaint details a litany of pervasive degrading jokes, offensive and degrading comments, and inappropriate touching that Meyer allegedly endured for months or years. The complaint also alleges that women were often objectified and critiqued based on their clothing, body parts and appearance in the workplace.

The complaint accuses former Construction Director Vladimir Rakach of “widespread lewd behavior, inappropriately speaking about women’s appearances, and injecting sexual innuendo and comments into the workplace.” Meyer alleges that Rakach told her that if she wore lower and tighter dresses that she would be promoted faster. The complaint also alleges that Rakach referred to one employee as a “MILF” among other things.

According to the lawsuit, Rakach was eventually fired, but Hurley said that he was not fired due to sexual harassment.

Additionally, the complaint alleges that Director of Development Scot Brantley “engaged in numerous instances of sexual and degrading behavior towards Meyer.” Meyer alleges that Brantley inappropriately discussed women’s bodies, discussed his own sex life, naked body and bathing routines. The complaint also alleges that Brantley discussed that he “loved” Meyer, had a “crush” on her and insinuated that he wanted to sleep with her. According to the complaint, Brantley additionally fetishized women’s pregnant bodies and on multiple occasions made comments in the workplace about women’s breasts when they were pregnant or were considering pregnancy.

The complaint alleges that although there were multiple instances of sexual harassment that were reported to management, including specific reports by Meyer, that nothing was done to address it, and the alleged harassers continued to work at the company, free of any prompt or adequate response. This past June, Meyer resigned from her position at the company.

Owner of Hurley Development Ryan Hurley is involved in ownership of several local businesses, including Talents Construction, Colab Workspace, Boomerang and SAAP Fusion Kitchen. The complaint alleges that Hurley treated men well and treated women poorly. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Hurley accused women of going through “menopause,” referred to at least one woman as a “c*nt” and accused another woman of being “too feminist.”

The complaint additionally alleges religious discrimination. According to the complaint, Hurley Development holds weekly religious devotionals where Christian content is discussed such as scriptures or Bible passages. Meyer alleges that employees are treated less favorably if they do not attend the allegedly “optional” devotionals, and, for example, the complaint alleges that at least one employee was told she was required to attend and lead the religious ceremonies on Monday mornings. The complaint additionally alleges that non-Christians felt compelled to go to the devotionals and often fear retaliation if they do not attend. The complaint alleges that if employees did not attend, they would often miss out on important company business or current events.

The complaint alleges that the named sexual harassers were given a “free pass” or treated as a “work in progress” if they attended devotionals, despite multiple complaints.

A statement from Hurley Development said: “Since its founding 12 years ago, Hurley Development  has worked to make significant contributions to our community and has done so with a culture of inclusivity, respect, and valuing all our employees. We are devastated that false allegations have been made against the company and especially against Ryan personally. We are committed to defending ourselves vigorously and continuing to live out our value of respect toward our employees and track record of hiring and promoting employees based on their merit and performance at all levels within the company, regardless of gender or religious affiliation.”

“Although Hurley Development and its ownership and management act like it is a faithful and pious place to work, they ignore the rampant sexual harassment and discrimination,” said attorney for the Plaintiff, Colin McHugh of Navigate Law Group. “Based on the evidence, it appears that the company and the named individuals openly treated numerous female employees very poorly as compared to their male counterparts and exposed them to an extremely hostile work environment based on sex.”

“Women should never have to deal with this level of humiliating and degrading mistreatment at work,” McHugh continued. “It is surprising that such well-known and accomplished local businesspeople like the defendants would let behavior like this go on for so long. Hopefully, this case will open the eyes of the defendants and help them understand how unacceptable and shameful their behavior was for at least the last few years.”

No dollar amount is listed in the lawsuit. Meyer is claiming damages, including emotional distress, humiliation, lost wages and attorneys’ fees.

Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.