A Louisiana Housing Corporation employee who said she was sexually harassed by Executive Director Frederick Tombar III last year, shortly before he resigned, is now suing Tombar and the state agency.
Dianah Hanson alleges in a lawsuit filed in Baton Rouge federal court Wednesday that Tombar sexually harassed her for five months and that the LHC did not have a sexual harassment policy in place.
Hanson complained about Tombar to the LHC board on April 10, her suit states. Tombar resigned April 21, two days before a state Division of Administration official concluded in a report that Tombar “clearly establish(ed) a pattern of sexual harassment and hostile work environment.”
An internal investigation concluded he had sexually harassed two female employees over a span of several months, often asking them to spend the night with him at his government-funded hotel rooms. The report, obtained by The Advocate last year through a public-records request, did not name the women.
Hanson, a 38-year-old LHC housing specialist, says in her suit that she is one of those women.
Attempts to reach Tombar on Friday were not successful. A spokeswoman for Tombar told The Advocate last year that the allegations are untrue and that Tombar resigned in an effort to protect his family from any public ridicule and manipulation.
Greg Dupuis, a Division of Administration spokesman, said Friday the department does not comment on pending litigation.
Hanson says the harassment began in November 2014 at a Thanksgiving luncheon when Tombar, who is married, unexpectedly tried to feed her with his fork.
“This made Ms. Hanson very uncomfortable and embarrassed because she did not want her co-workers to get the wrong impression of her,” Hanson’s suit says.
Tombar then took to social media, including Facebook and Instagram, to “pursue” Hanson by repeatedly asking her to join him for drinks after work, but Hanson also made excuses not to do so, the suit alleges.
Hanson claims Tombar’s advances toward her escalated last January, when he began to send inappropriate messages to her, including asking her if she had ever been involved with a married man and advising her to keep their “relationship” to themselves.
Tombar, she alleges, asked her to spend the night with him at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge the night before LHC’s February board meeting. Tombar lives in New Orleans and would stay overnight in Baton Rouge to attend early-morning LHC board meetings, the suit says.
Hanson claims Tombar gave her a key to his hotel room, but she made up an excuse and did not join him there.
Shortly after LHC announced in March that there would be layoffs, the suit alleges, Tombar sent Hanson a private Facebook message asking if she knew about the layoffs and if she was concerned about losing her job. He asked her to call him.
“During the call, Tombar informed Ms. Hanson that she would be ‘safe’ from the layoffs while he asked her to spend the night with him at the Renaissance ... the night before LHC’s April 2015 board meeting. Once again, Ms. Hanson made up an excuse,” her suit states.
Hanson contends Tombar continued to send her messages about meeting him at the hotel that night, making sexually explicit requests toward her. She eventually blocked his telephone number.
Hanson’s suit says her work situation worsened after she reported Tombar, with rumors circulating at LHC that she had set him up and that he was the real victim.
The suit, which also alleges employment discrimination, seeks damages from Tombar and LHC for severe emotional distress, mental anguish and embarrassment and damage to reputation.
The suit is assigned to U.S. District Judge John deGravelles.