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Trader Joe's Cashier Says He Was Fired After Complaining About Penis-Shaped Gift

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A former Trader Joe's employee is suing the company, alleging that he was wrongfully fired after complaining about receiving a penis-shaped white elephant gift. Paul D. Roberts, 49, was an employee of the Trader Joe's store in Pasadena, located 345 S Lake Ave. He filed a complaint with the Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, accusing the retailer of wrongful termination, sexual harassment, failure to prevent sexual harassment, retaliation and negligence, City News Service reports.

The complaints states that Roberts was hired in 2007 and remained an employee for several years. At a Christmas party in December of 2014—a party at which the complaint claims attendance was "expected and implicitly required"—employees gave each other gifts. Roberts received a gift from co-worker Armina Asefvasziri, and had to open it in front of the party. The suit claims that when Roberts unwrapped the present, he was "shocked, embarrassed and humiliated" to find an object shaped like a penis, complete with testicles, that would grow when placed in water. (Probably something like this.)

"Mr. Roberts was distraught in receiving such an obnoxious and offensive item, particularly in front of his supervisor and having received it from a female," the complaint states.

Roberts said he later filed a complaint with supervisors, saying that if a man had given a gift like that to a woman, he would likely be disciplined or worse, fired. He said he felt that his supervisors ignored his concerns, and claims that Asefvasziri later teased him about the gift. He said he was told his report was being looked into in January 2015, but that he was fired two days later.

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Roberts' attorney, William Stoner, said that the store told Roberts his work was "unsatisfactory and unacceptable," which he believes was merely "a pretext for retaliation," according to CBS Los Angeles.