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HUDSON, N.H. -- Frederick J. Fuller, owner of Fred Fuller Oil Co. and Fuller's Convenience Stores Inc. in Hudson, N.H., has agreed to pay $780,000 to five women who claim he sexually harassed them at work, according to the Lowell Sun.
The women filed a lawsuit claiming Fuller groped them, demanded sexual favors, fired or forced out of the company those who objected, and pressured one to lie about the harassment.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission called Fuller “a serial sexual harasser.”
The women who filed the lawsuit will each get $70,000 to $222,000.
The commission announced the settlement with Fuller, Fred Fuller Oil Co. Inc. and Fuller's Convenience Store yesterday.
“The record is abundantly clear that not only does he 'not get it,' he just doesn't care. He is a serial sexual harasser,” the federal agency reported, citing a history going back 10 years.
“Fuller engaged in almost every type of sexual harassment possible, short of rape. He assaulted, he touched, he humiliated, he berated and he insulted these women, all on account of their sex. His behavior was repeated, routine, egregious and continuous.”
Fuller agreed to the settlement without admitting wrongdoing.
His lawyer denied the allegations and accused the federal agency of performing an overzealous investigation.
“They were relentless in going after Fuller Oil employees to try to get them to join the case and seriously disrupted the business,” said attorney Peter Callaghan.
The allegations against Fuller are lurid.
He was accused of handcuffing a 17-year-old at Fuller Convenience Store, which he has since sold, backing her into a dark hallway and fondling her under her blouse, according to a sworn statement to the state Human Rights Commission before the federal probe.
According to court papers, at other times Fuller wanted sex on a desk with an employee and snapped the bra on a woman during a sexual harassment training session in 2003; he pressured an employee to contradict allegations former general manager Charles Ballard told federal investigators, then forced her out of the company after she said she would be lying.
A longtime employee said she was aware there were legal issues with Fuller but did not know the details. Fuller has always treated her with respect, she said.
“I don't have a problem with Fred at all,” she said.
In addition to paying the money, Fuller must take sensitivity training, provide additional training for the oil company's management team and improve the company's policies against harassment.