A 39-year-old Belleville woman who worked as a receptionist at a Union dental office says that her boss took shots of hard liquor and promoted “party culture,” according to a new lawsuit.
Nadia Zevallos was “driven out” of her former workplace at American Dental Center in Union after she complained about her supervisor, Lilly Almeida, for encouraging a “rampant party culture,” according to the suit, filed last week in Union County.
Zevallos said she witnessed Almeida drink hard liquor from dental cups and consume marijuana jello shots and brownies while working.
Almeida also pressured other employees at the office to consume these substances, the suit says.
Zevallos says she was offered the substances but continually declined.
Almeida was able to engage in the party culture due to her “flirtatious and possibly romantic relationship” with dentist David Paltac, the suit claims.
When office manager Cathleen Peters was told about Almeida’s alleged behavior, Almeida screamed and threw an accounting booklet at Zevallos before “violent shaking her chair,” assigning her extra work and giving her shifts she knew Zevallos would have difficulty making, the suit says.
Dr. Paltac told Peters, “There can be an empty bottle of whisky in my garbage can, but if there is no video of me drinking it, no one can prove that the whiskey bottle is mine,” during a meeting with Zevallos and Almeida on Feb. 3, the suit says.
During the same meeting, Peters allegedly told Zevallos that while the office doesn’t terminate people, “we just make sure your life is miserable so you leave on your own,” the suit states.
Zevallos quit the same day, and two days later, she received a call from a coworker who said, “everyone in the office was upset at you,” and that another would “find you and kick your ass,” the suit says.
The lawsuit says to imagine a workplace akin to the movie The Wolf of Wall Street. “Then, imagine that workplace was not on Wall Street — but was actually a dental practice on Main Street, where unsuspecting patients were handled by staff and treated by dentists who participated in this illicit and immoral behavior.”