Woman Alleges Sexual Harassment at New Boston Biodiesel Plant


A lawsuit filed this week in Texarkana federal court accuses a supervisor at Renewable Energy Group of sexually harassing a female employee.

Lawyer Josh Potter filed a complaint on behalf of his client, Elisabeth Asbel, in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas federal court. The complaint names both Renewable Energy Group and Robert Taylor as defendants.

According to the complaint, “While at work, Defendant Robert Taylor would constantly tell Plaintiff that she was pretty and that she was sexy.”

“Around March or April 2013, Robert Taylor showed up at Plaintiff’s residence after work with a six-pack of beer. Robert Taylor kissed Plaintiff against Plaintiff’s wishes. Plaintiff told Defendant Robert Taylor that he was married, that he was drunk, and that he needed to go home,” the complaint says.

The suit alleges, “Defendant Robert Taylor would enter the women’s restroom at the Plant while Plaintiff was changing into and out of her required uniform, against Plaintiff’s urges for him to get out. Defendant Robert Taylor told her ‘you don’t have nothin’ I haven’t seen’.”

“One morning in December, 2013, Plaintiff had to take inventory documents to Defendant Robert Taylor’s office. Once Plaintiff entered his office, Defendant Robert Taylor grabbed Plaintiff, shut the door, pushed her against said door, and attempted to kiss Plaintiff. Defendant Robert Taylor grabbed Plaintiff’s breasts against Plaintiff’s wishes. Plaintiff told him to stop, pushed him off of her, and rushed back to the control room.”

The complaint continues, “After the December, 2013 incident in his office, Defendant Robert Taylor went on week-long vacation in Florida. During that vacation, Defendant Robert Taylor called Billy Neal, the Operations Manager, and told him to write Plaintiff up for not cleaning the centrifuge every hour. On the opposite shift of Plaintiff, Rick Kinney failed to clean the centrifuge every hour, as per Billy Neal’s instructions, but Rick Kinney, a male, was never written up for failure to clean the centrifuge.”

“At approximately 12:00 in the afternoon on or about March, 2014, while Defendant Robert Taylor was on the clock and supposed to be at the Plant, Plaintiff woke up to Defendant Robert Taylor staring at Plaintiff in her bedroom. He then sat down on the bed. Plaintiff asked if there was an emergency and why Defendant was there. Defendant said he was just checking on her and Defendant started stroking and caressing her hair. Plaintiff told Defendant to get out and Defendant told Plaintiff that ‘she needs someone to take care of her,'” the complaint says.

“On or about April 29, 2014 Plaintiff reported an incident to Gus Baltabols, Regional Supervisor, in Aimes, Iowa. Defendant Robert Taylor, while at the Plant, cussed out Plaintiff, telling Plaintiff she was a “fucking idiot” and she is making the company look like idiots. Defendant Robert Taylor told Plaintiff that “nothing goes to the head office without his and Billy’s approval.” Defendant further called Plaintiff while she was on her way home from work and continued the insults, chastising, and harassment.”

According to the complaint, “On or about April 30, 2014 Plaintiff reported to Brenda Brown, the Human Resources Representative, that she was being sexually, physically, and emotionally harassed. Plaintiff was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown. Brenda Brown and her supervisor James Barkley started the investigation process.

According to the complaint Taylor told Asbel the next he could get her sick leave if she would retract the complaint.

“Sometime after the Complaint, Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for intestinal infections. Billy Neal, operations manager, brought Plaintiff magazines and was on notice that Plaintiff was missing work for illness. Plaintiff was written up by Defendant Robert Taylor for missing work. Defendant told her that she has to call every day while she was in the hospital, even if she was on life support,” the complaint states.

According to the complaint, “After the investigation was completed, James Barkley and Gus Baltabols called Plaintiff into the conference room at the Plant. Gus Baltabols told her that he didn’t like what Plaintiff did or how she did it. He said he “will have her gone in six months.” Baltabols continued, “If Plaintiff wants to stay, she will have to prove herself.” James suggested that Plaintiff take six month’s salary and the company would pay her to move back home to Florida.”

The complaint states, “Following the investigation and subsequent meeting with Barkley and Baltabols, Plaintiff was written up for small and petty things.” The complaint alleges the Plaintiff was written up for overflowing vent gas. However, Greg Britton, a male, had overflowed the vent gas the previous week and he was not written up.

“Plaintiff was wrongly written up for a Captain Morgan bottle that was found in the trash. Greg Britton said that Plaintiff comes into work drunk on a regular basis and that’s why she is always late. Greg Britton asked Plaintiff to sign a statement saying it was her bottle. Plaintiff refused,” the complaint states.

According to the complaint the Plaintiff was terminated on August 13, 2014 for being late, when in fact she was not late.

Asbel’s complaint alleges Defendant, Renewable Energy Group, by and through Defendant’s agents, discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of sex with malice or with reckless indifference to the state-protected rights of Plaintiff.

“Defendant Robert Taylor intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly made contact with Plaintiff’s person or threatened Plaintiff with imminent bodily injury which caused injury to Plaintiff. Defendant, Robert Taylor, touched Plaintiff inappropriately and without her consent numerous times. Plaintiff suffered damages for which Plaintiff herein sues,” states the complaint.

Asabel is asking for actual damages, attorney’s fees, back pay, emotional pain and mental anguish, and court costs.

Download complaint .pdf

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