Keystone Real Estate faces new federal civil suit

lfalce@centredaily.comJune 5, 2014 

A new lawsuit repeats allegations of workplace discrimination made earlier this year against Keystone Real Estate Group.

Joseph Korsak, of Mazza Law Group, has filed the latest suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Deborah M. Stewart, of Pine Grove Mills, a former manager at Keystone’s University Terrace property.

The civil suit makes a variety of allegations, including discrimination on the part of chief operating officer Mary Frantz Adams and sexual harassment by multiple male employees, including the human resources officer, and other employees of the company.

Discrimination allegations stem from Stewart’s claims that she and girlfriend/co-worker Amanda Thomas were singled out for unfair and hostile treatment after another employee learned of their romantic relationship outside work. Thomas filed a previous suit against Keystone in March.

Keystone vehemently denies that any of the information in either case is true.

In the new filing, Korsak alleges that Stewart and Thomas were told their relationship was “disgusting,” and that they were told to end the relationship for the good of their jobs while inter-office romances involving heterosexual couples were tolerated.

Stewart and Thomas said in the suits that they were fired for drinking alcohol at a company party, but others who drank at the same party were not dismissed.

Harassment claims run the gamut from simple advances to nude pictures of male co-workers’ genitalia being sent to Stewart. The court documents said tha twhen Stewart broke down crying about one co-worker’s behavior to the human resources officer, that officer responded by unzipping his pants and propositioning her.

Ben Heim, CEO and president of Keystone, called the suits “an attempt by the plaintiffs to litigate in the media.”

“These are the same allegations and claims that were in the last complaint filed by Ms. Thomas,” Heim said of Stewart’s suit. “Ms. Stewart’s allegations are simply a repeat of the prior complaint.”

He added: “We stand by our last statement and reject any notion that our actions in this matter were for any other purpose than to address malfeasance on the part of the plaintiffs. The lurid allegations in the complaint are simply meant to sensationalize this matter, as they were never brought to our attention until after the termination of employment.”

Keystone’s attorney, Amy Marshall, said the company had valid reasons for ending the employment of both women.

Marshall said she will be moving to consolidate the two cases moving forward.

Lori Falce can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @LoriFalce.

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