The only female truck driver for Giant Food Inc. sued the Landover-based company yesterday for sex discrimination and unfair employment practices.
"If they'd leave me the hell alone and let me drive my truck, I'd be the happiest person on earth," said Natalie Boehm, 28, the only woman among Giant's approximately 170 drivers.
Her $11 million suit, filed in federal court in Baltimore, alleged a "systematic, intentional, and continuous pattern of oppressive harassment and discrimination against her because of her sex."
Giant officials could not be reached late yesterday for comment.
Boehm said in her complaint that Giant treated her differently from male drivers, required her to drive under unsafe conditions, threatened her after she filed a grievance through her union, and assigned her less favorable driving shifts compared to those of male drivers of the same seniority.
She has driven Giant's massive, 35-ton tractor trailers for more than two years, and says handling the trucks is easier than dealing with the harassment she receives at work.
She said she assumed there would be bruised egos and some resentment from the male drivers when she was hired, but never expected the threats of physical harm that she says she received shortly after she went to work.
She complained to a company supervisor, she said in an interview last week, but his only response was, "Wee, this is a man's world and that is part of it."
Later that day, Boehm said she found that the door of her truck had been tampered with and made unsafe.
Boehm says company officials watched her more closely than the men and disciplined her for minor mistakes that were ignored in the case of male drivers.
Boehm's attorney, James B. Hopewell, said yesterday he is convinced that "Giant just doesn't want women driving their tractor-trailer trucks. Because of their attitude, there is clearly a conspiracy to drive Natalie out of her job." CAPTION: Picture, Natalie Boehm, standing by a Giant Food rig in Parole, Md., is suing company for $11 million. By Margaret Thomas -- The Washington Post