Village Candle founder accused of ‘relentless sexual harassment’

June 12th, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

Three former employees of Village Candle in Wells have accused the company’s founder and president of displaying “a pervasive pattern of severely offensive and relentless sexual harassment of female employees.”

The allegations leveled against Paul Aldrich, president of Village Candle, are contained in three lawsuits filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland. Besides sexual harassment, the lawsuits charge Aldrich on eight other counts, including assault and battery, touching the plaintiffs in ways they found offensive, retaliation and multiple state and federal labor violations.

Additional Photos

A Village Candle worker fills molds with  hot scented wax at the company's production facility in Brunswick.Press Herald file

The three women – former Village Candle vice president of sales and marketing Cynthia Rowe; her daughter Cassie Laughlin, who was formerly a retail sales manager at the company; and Heidi MacDonald, who worked as a debt collector for the company – are represented by Laura White and William Gallitto of the law firm Bergen Parkinson in Kennebunk.

Village Candle manufactures scented candles at its facility in Wells. It has more than 50 employees, according to court documents. In 2011, it consolidated its manufacturing and distribution facilities from Topsham and Gardiner into the former R.R. Donnelly catalog printing plant in Wells.

The complaints describe a culture of sexual harassment going back to 2001 when Aldrich allegedly forced a female employee, who is not a plaintiff in the current lawsuits, to have after-hours business dinners with him. The complaints describe one such dinner when Aldrich asked this

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