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Former Employee Sues Keystone Real Estate for Alleged Discrimination, Company Denies Wrongdoing

by on March 27, 2014 6:50 AM

A former employee of Keystone Real Estate Group is suing the company for alleged discrimination and harassment due to her gender and lesbian relationship with a co-worker.

At the same time, the company denies any wrongdoing.

Amanda Thomas of State College filed the suit in federal court this week in which she seeks monetary damages for lost wages and pain and suffering after she says the company terminated her for having a romantic relationship with a fellow female employee.

The suit, filed by attorney Joseph Korsak of State College, argues Keystone's Chief Operation Officer Mary Frantz Adams fired Thomas and her partner after a fellow employee reported seeing the two at a restaurant while they were off duty. To that point, Thomas says the two kept their relationship separate from work.

"Thomas was subjected to repeated verbal attacks, discrimination and was ultimately fired by Keystone's Chief Operation Officer, Mary Frantz Adams, because of Thomas' gender and because Thomas was engaging in a personal romantic relationship with another woman," the lawsuit states.

The reported negative behavior began when Adams allegedly reported Thomas' relationship to Thomas' father on Oct. 1. The suit also alleges Adams described the women's relationship as disgusting. Soon after, Adams allegedly questioned other employees about Thomas and her partner revealing their relationship to most of their co-workers.

Ultimately, Adams allegedly reassigned Thomas to a new office location before terminating Thomas and her partner for allegedly drinking alcohol at a company pool party. According to the suit, Thomas only consumed one beer three hours before the event.

The suit notes that other employees were issued written warnings for drinking at the pool party – after the company fired Thomas. The suit also noted that several employees have engaged in open, romantic relationships with co-workers.

The suit also accuses a male employee of making inappropriate sexual comments to Thomas over the course of her time with the company.

Keystone Real Estate Group CEO Benjamin Heim says the accusations are false and issued the following statement:

"Although we are not able to comment on any of the specific allegations in the current litigation, Keystone has always been and continues to be committed to a work environment based upon a set of core values evolving around service to others. We hire people based on these values that embrace mutual respect for one another, open communication, tolerance and an environment of support for one another.

"... the plaintiff quit; she was not terminated. The other named employee was terminated for just cause. The alleged harassment was not reported to senior staff until after their employment concluded.

"Contrary to the allegations of our former employee, Keystone celebrates the diversity of our team and especially our community. We believe we have acted consistently to uphold our core values and we look forward for the facts of this case and the entire story to be heard in the appropriate forum where we will be absolved."

Keystone manages several real estate leasing offices in the State College area. Thomas was employed as a leasing agent with the company between August 2011 and October 2012.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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