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California health plan sued for sexual harassment

The public health plan that runs Ventura County's Medi-Cal system has been sued again. In an earlier blog post, we reported on a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by two former Gold Coast Health Plan employees who alleged their termination from employment constituted unlawful retaliation. Now, a third former employee has stepped forward claiming that she was sexually harassed by the plan's former CEO. Like the employees in the first lawsuit, the third employee also claims retaliation, saying she was fired after reporting the sexual harassment.

The most recent lawsuit was brought by a former administrative assistant for the plan. She alleges that the plan's former chief executive, who resigned in March, engaged in a pattern of sexually harassing behavior that created a hostile work environment. Among other things, the woman claims her former boss sent her sexually explicit emails and text messages, gave her a flash drive containing pornography and spanked her in an elevator. 

The woman says she reported the harassment to the plan's human resources director but that no action was taken to end the unlawful conduct. The human resources director is one of the plaintiffs in the first lawsuit. That suit claims the HR director was fired for reporting sexual harassment complaints made by other employees as well as other workplace improprieties.

Sexual harassment is illegal under both California and federal law. The law prohibits unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature such as unwanted sexual advances, lewd comments and sexually explicit materials in the workplace. Any employee who has been the victim of harassment in the workplace is encouraged to seek the advice of a knowledgeable employment law employer. The attorney can explain the employee's rights and potential legal recourse.

Source: Ventura County Star, "Former employee of local Medi-Cal plan alleges sexual harassment," Tom Kisken, March 7, 2013 

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