EXCLUSIVE: Former Santa Fe IATSE boss Jon Hendry has been hit with a third sexual harassment lawsuit – this one by a former assistant who accuses him of a laundry list of other allegations, including racketeering and campaign finance violations.
Hendry, once the most powerful labor leader in New Mexico, was ousted in March as IATSE Local 480’s longtime business agent after two former staffers accused him of sexually harassing them. That same month he was ousted as president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
In the latest lawsuit, Michelle Labounty, who worked as Hendry’s assistant at the local from 2011-12, claims that he “continually sexually harassed and intimidated” her “with inappropriate conditions to maintain employment.” The suit claims that Hendry’s “unprofessional conduct” included “pressuring Ms. Labounty to share a hotel room with him on a business trip, saying it was to save union money, and criticizing her as not being ‘cool’ or ‘rock-n-roll’ for not complying.”
The complaint alleges that he also pressured her to “share a bed with him” when they attended the South by Southwest festival in Austin, telling her “nothing would happen” and that he “just wanted to be comfortable.” She claims he also pressured her to wear a “revealing ‘groupie’ outfit he bought for her” on that trip.
Labounty also accused Hendry of pressuring her “to take a hot spa bath with him during an overnight trip” to Truth or Consequences, NM, and then “retaliating against Ms. Labounty for rejecting his advances by refusing to pay her overtime despite requiring her to work as much as 90 hours per week.”
Contacted by Deadline, Hendry said he was “surprised” by the allegations and referred calls to his attorney. “He has told me to talk to no one,” he said. His attorney did not return calls for comment.
The suit, which also names IATSE and Local 480 as defendants for failing to stop Hendry’s alleged misconduct, claims that Hendry’s actions created a hostile work environment. This allegedly included “patting her on the buttocks”; calling her to his house and “coming out to greet her in boxer shorts”; “conducting business calls with potential employers of female IATSE members and referring to these women as ‘sluts’ to their prospective employers”; telling her that “most women who worked on film sets were ‘former strippers,” and “bragging in her presence about how he ruins women and men in the business if he decides they are ‘out.’”
She also claims that he “objectified” her “by taking photographs of her and sending them to other union bosses while bragging about how ‘hot’ his ‘blonde assistant’ was,” and that he made “inappropriate late-night calls to Ms. Labounty, making heavy breathing sounds, and later apologizing and explaining it was his mistress’s ‘boob’ that was dialing his phone while she was on his lap.”
In her lawsuit, she says she wanted to become a member of the local and work in the New Mexico film and TV industry, but that Hendry wouldn’t allow it, allegedly telling her that “she could not become a member of Local 480 because she ‘worked for him’ and ‘knew too much’ about union business.”
The suit says that he also told her that “she did not have the skills to do a union job, that people trained for years to do what they did, and that she was ‘insulting members’ by suggesting she could be in the union, while on other occasions Hendry would meet a pretty young girl on an airplane and invite her to join the union as a make-up artist, when she had no training or experience.”
The suit also claims that Hendry, who had ties to many Democratic politicians in the state, also engaged in a scheme to violate campaign finance laws by “pressuring Ms. Labounty to withdraw money from her personal bank account to pay – though he then reimbursed her – for a radio ad he provided her against a public office candidate, telling her there could be no paper trail to him and under no circumstances could she divulge he had her pay for the ad.”
Labounty claims that her working conditions at the local were so “intolerable” that she was “compelled to resign” on July 19, 2012 – after which Hendry “retaliated against her and kept intimidating her,” including “blackballing” from working in the industry “in the same way she had overheard him blackball other women in the industry.”
Two other women have made similar allegations against the former union boss. Christa Valdez, the local’s former public relations rep, sued Hendry in March, claiming that he “continually harassed and intimidated” her with “sexual propositions and inappropriate conditions to maintain employment,” including sending her a text in 2016 that said: “Could you send me a pic of your naked, sweaty, skinny body? At least one of us will feel much better.”
Six days after that suit was filed – and the same day he was removed as president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor AFL-CIO – a second sexual harassment suit was filed against him. Madeleine Lauve, a former employee of the local, alleged that from 2013-14, Hendry subjected her to “discriminatory conditions, including an explicit quid pro quo for sex, to maintain and to improve her employment and to qualify for and be admitted as a labor organization member of IATSE.”
Lauve’s suit claims he fired her after she refused to have sex with him anymore. “The work and labor organization environment became hostile and aggressive, and Ms. Lauve was eventually terminated from IATSE Local 480, as well as undermined on a Local 480 craft services assignment, on or about March 21, 2014, as a result of Ms. Lauve having ceased to consent to and begun to oppose Hendry’s quid pro quo.”