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Former janitors sue Tampa Bay Downs

TAMPA — Three former janitors filed a lawsuit Monday against Tampa Bay Downs and four of the racetrack's employees, claiming they lost their jobs after one of them refused to rekindle a sexual relationship with a supervisor.

Rosa Siam, her mother Rafaela Siam and nephew Rudy Siam were janitors at Tampa Bay Downs at 11225 Racetrack Road.

The lawsuit claims the workplace turned hostile for the Siams in September 2006, after Rosa Siam ended a nine-year domestic-partner relationship with Caridad Rodriguez, the janitorial department supervisor.

When Rodriguez became ill and took a leave of absence, his daughter carried out the harassment he began by threatening to fire the Siams if Rosa Siam didn't return to her father, the lawsuit said.

Tanyah Velez, who worked as a janitorial supervisor at the racetrack after her father's illness, blamed Rosa Siam for causing her dad to "die alone," the lawsuit said.

Rodriguez died of lung cancer in August 2007.

The Siams are suing Tampa Bay Downs; Velez; Linda Notorangelo, the human resources manager; and Greg Geylon, vice president of finance and controller. Also named in the suit is an individual listed only as Javier, a racetrack employee who allegedly flattened Rosa Siam's tires at Velez's request.

The racetrack's general manager could not be reached Monday.

The suit accuses Notorangelo and Geylon of negligent infliction of emotional stress for knowing about the harassment and doing nothing to stop it. Geylon denied the allegations, the lawsuit said.

Notorangelo told the Siams to "do what they have to do, because Tampa Bay Downs is untouchable, and nobody has ever won against the track because they have the best lawyers," the lawsuit states.

In addition to the sexual harassment, Rosa Siam claimed that Velez misclassified her employment status then forced her to work unpaid overtime. She also claimed Velez falsified insubordination reports and required Rosa Siam to sign them, knowing Siam couldn't read them in English.

Rosa Siam said in the lawsuit that she was distraught over the situation, because she and her relatives spoke little English and knew no other trade or occupation.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Former janitors sue Tampa Bay Downs 01/05/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 12:25pm]
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