“My name is out there on the street now,” Salvatore Buzzetta lamented after testifying in Brooklyn Federal Court last week. “They call me ‘Sally Fingers!'”
Buzzetta, a married father of three, has been accused by a former male colleague of having “loose hands,” allegations the longshoreman calls “appalling” and “all lies.”
The lawsuit was filed by Michael Sabella, who alleges that, while he was employed at the New York Container Terminal, Buzzetta, who was his supervisor at the time, threw him over a desk, grabbed his crotch, and shoved his finger up his butt. When Sabella filed a complaint with the Waterfront Commission about the alleged attack, he claims he was suspended and ultimately banned from the pier in retaliation.
“I was attacked,” Sabella testified. “[Buzzetta] went to grab my crotch and I pushed his hand away. He threw me over the desk and I couldn’t get out — he was strong.”
His voice cracking, he continued: “He put his finger in my ass. Everybody was looking. If it wasn’t for the old-timer, he said, ‘Let go of that boy.'”
But Buzzetta says he never touched Sabella’s private parts, though he did acknowledge there was some “wrestling with the men” at times in the workplace.
“I played around with the guys,” he testified. “Horsing around.”
Sabella’s lawyer, Matthew Blit, then asked what parts of men’s bodies Buzzetta specifically touched when he was “horsing around.” Buzzetta said it was “only their arms, shoulders, and heads.”
“Mr. Buzzetta, what is your sexual orientation?” lawyer Janine Bauer then asked.
“I like women,” he replied.
As a result of the sexual harassment allegations, Buzzetta says he was mocked so badly by colleagues that it forced him to find a different job on the waterfront.
“The men were just absurd, this thing with this case and all this was too much stress for me,” he said.