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Women file complaint against Bently

Holly Atchison

Two former Bently Nevada employees have filed charges against the company for what they believe is illegal termination due to their personal beliefs.

Jessica Gomes of Gardnerville and Carlene O’Neil of Carson City were fired Aug. 8 after they had refused to sign for a UPS package two days earlier.

“Both of us are very patriotic and we feel it’s everyone’s right to express their opinions,” Gomes said. “We were both raised you don’t cross a picket line. You just plain don’t.”

“I was in the United States Marines, and I just feel every American citizen has the right to express their opinion, and I respect that right,” said O’Neil. “I felt signing for those packages was just like crossing a picket line.”

According to Gomes, neither of the women wanted to sign for a UPS package that was delivered to the company where both worked as senior stores clerks. She found someone else who was willing to sign for the package and the issue was brought forth to the supervisor, Gene Sorem.

“He said he wanted to try and understand our point of view because he didn’t,” Gomes said. “He told Carlene ‘Lucky for you and lucky for us it’s not your job to sign.’ Nothing else was said by the manager.”

Gomes said she told Sorem if it meant her job, then she would sign in the future.

Two days later, Sorem told both women because of their personal beliefs and because she did not sign for the package, he was going to let them go, according to Gomes.

“Evidently, it was his decision, but he said he had all the necessary signatures,” she said.

“About a week earlier, the same guy that fired me said he was going to fight to get me a better raise,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil had been working at Bently for almost five years and said she planned to stay there until she retired.

“I loved my job,” she said. “I never had any write-ups, and I always had good reviews.”

“Carlene is so squeaky clean with her record and she works so hard,” Gomes said. “She’s such a good employee.”

Gomes said she had been with the company for 6-1/2 years and had never had a situation in which she had been in trouble.

The complaint was received by the National Labor Relations Board last week and is currently being investigated, Gomes said. The two have had no contact with Bently since their termination.

Jim Schmid, vice president of human resources for Bently, said Tuesday the company has no interest in the case.

“If people knew the facts around the case instead of the way it was misreported, they’d see there is nothing to report,” he said. “We have no interest in this. Nothing to share at this time and probably nothing in the future.”

In the meantime, both woman are dealing with the trials of unemployment.

“I had to take a second job running Keno at CVI while I was working at Bently to make ends meet because my husband’s disabled and to support my twins,” Gomes said.

Now she is working full-time swing shift at the Carson Valley Inn, but says it is not nearly enough money as she needs.

“I’ve been out this last week looking for a job,” O’Neil said, but she has had no luck so far.

O’Neil said she hopes to be reinstated to her position if the grounds of dismissal were found to be illegal as long as the company would make a statement saying they would be fair from then on.

“I loved my job and I would love to go back,” she said.

“Carlene and I are very patriotic,” Gomes said. “We were both in the Marine Corps and we served our country so people would have the right to voice their opinions.

“We were both brought up with the union background. The whole thing is to make a better life, and we just believe that what they’re doing is right and supporting them (the UPS Teamsters) is right.”