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Hollywood Propmaster Union Facing Sex Harassment Scandal

Variety logo Variety 12/20/2016 Gene Maddaus
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A former employee of IATSE Local 44, a Hollywood craft union, alleges that she was fired for complaining about her boss’s inappropriate sexual relationship with a subordinate.

Martha Quiroz filed suit on Monday against the local union, which represents 5,000 workers, including propmasters, prop makers, and set decorators. Quiroz, a clerk in the union’s business office, alleged that her boss, Anthony Pawluc, had sexual relationships with two Local 44 employees, and retaliated against her when she raised concerns about it.

“It’s basically the story of a guy who likes to control people, especially female subordinates,” said Mike Azat, Quiroz’s attorney. “When he felt he was being challenged, he got rid of her.”

Representatives of IATSE Local 44 did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pawluc, who is also named as a defendant in the suit, is the union’s coordinating secretary, with total annual compensation of $205,000, according to federal labor filings.

In the suit, Quiroz said she spotted Pawluc kissing one employee — identified as “J.C.” — at the union’s Christmas party in 2012. When she asked him about it, “Pawluc replied that he knew it was wrong and that he should not be involved with J.C. romantically and laughed,” the suit alleges.

A few months later, Pawluc began dating a different employee — “B.A.” — and J.C. was fired, according to the suit.

Quiroz said that she pitched Pawluc on the idea of selling Local 44 merchandise on the union’s website, which would add to Quiroz’s job duties and boost her salary. Pawluc liked the idea, but ultimately gave the responsibility to B.A., according to the suit.

Quiroz alleged that Pawluc gave B.A. other benefits, even though she worked part-time and lacked experience. B.A. got her own private office, was allowed to do school work in the office, and was allowed to take time off and work from home, according to the suit. Quiroz complained about the favoritism to several officers and employees of the local.

In October 2015, Pawluc’s assistant quit after a loud argument, in which the assistant told Pawluc that “she knew about his relationship with B.A. and that she was tired of lying for him,” the suit alleges. Pawluc later told Quiroz that loyalty was the most important quality to him, and the former assistant was “disloyal,” Quiroz alleges. He then asked Quiroz if she was loyal, and suggested that it was time to “circle the wagons,” the suit alleges.

Quiroz continued to question Pawluc’s relationship, only to find her overtime hours slashed from 20-40 per month to 10 per month, according to the suit. Pawluc also stopped allowing her to cater Local 44 events, she alleges.

In April 2016, Quiroz drove by Pawluc’s house early in the morning and saw B.A. leaving, the suit alleges. She was fired two days later.

Azat said that the union launched an internal investigation in response to Quiroz’s complaints, but that he filed the suit because “I felt they weren’t going to do anything.”

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