Allison Gray, “A lawsuit will be filed against T-Mobile.”

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Agganis press conferenceFormer T-Mobile employee to sue over harassment at Oakland call center

Angela Agganis was asked to sign a gag order after she complained to human resources about sexual harassment from a superior, and labor groups say T-Mobile has a practice of ‘muzzling’ employees.

OAKLAND — A former T-Mobile employee who was prohibited from discussing a sexual harassment complaint she made against a superior plans to sue the company in federal court, and labor activists are using her case to call attention to company practice that “muzzles” employees who speak out about working conditions.

At a Tuesday morning news conference near the entrance of the company’s Oakland call center, Angela Agganis, of Waterville, said she worked for the company for nearly eight years and endured repeated sexual harassment from a male superior, including inappropriate touching.

When Agganis complained to human resources about the harassment in August 2014, she was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement prohibiting her from discussing the investigation with anyone and was told that if she didn’t comply with the terms of the gag order, she could be fired.

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Agganis said she signed the agreement but then immediately resigned.

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“People are scared to get fired here,” she told reporters following the event. “I just got to a point where I was more angry than scared.”

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“When people are harassed at work, especially when they are sexually harassed at work, they have a right to speak out without intimidation,” Dubnau said.

Before she complained to human resources, Agganis said, she did some research and found out that her superior had a track record of harassment.

“I began to have panic attacks. I said enough was enough,” she said.

Agganis said she asked that her superior be suspended during the internal investigation, but he was not. She quit her job because she didn’t feel safe with him in the building, she said.

Many of the call center workers are young women, and she thought she needed to make her story public to help protect other women from being harassed.

“I just really want all these people to be safe,” Agganis said.

Allison Gray, an employment and civil rights attorney from the Augusta law firm Johnson Webbert and Young, said Agganis filed a complaint in January with the Maine Human Rights Commission and requested and received a right to sue. A lawsuit will be filed against T-Mobile in Maine federal district court later this week, she said.

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In August, a judge from the National Labor Relations Board ruled that T-Mobile had violated U.S. labor law in North Carolina and Oakland when it had employees sign confidentiality agreements after opening internal investigations. The ruling required T-Mobile to rescind its policy and inform workers it had violated labor laws.

In March, another NLRB judge ruled that T-Mobile had committed 11 separate violations of labor law at locations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Wichita, Kansas, Charleston, South Carolina, and New York City. In that ruling, the judge found that the company’s confidentiality requirements, including gag orders during internal investigations, violated workers’ right to talk openly about issues in the workplace.

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