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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Former employee files sexual harassment suit against councilman

A California woman who worked in the office of a Los Angeles city councilman has filed a sexual harassment suit against his office, claiming that the councilman's chief of staff made a number of inappropriate sexual jokes at her expense and that such behavior was rampant throughout the office. She also accused the councilman of making several sexual jokes himself.

The recently-filed suit claims that the hostile activity occurred between February 2012 and April 2013. The former employee said that the chief of staff would frequently joke about her boyfriend's sexual ability and that the councilman subsequently ignored her complaints. The allegations included a claim that the councilman had asked her if she only wanted to work on public safety because she wanted to be naked in front of firemen. A spokesperson said that the councilman had no knowledge of harassment in his office and that there was a process in place for employees to report hostile behavior.

This is the second sexual harassment suit in recent weeks against a Los Angeles councilman. Both have been filed at a time when it has been widely observed that 17 of the city's 18 elected officials are men.

Every person has the right to work in an environment free of crude or sexually explicit conversation, sexual advances and hostile behavior. Individuals who are victimized by such behavior may feel ostracized from coworkers, unable to perform their duties or advance their careers. An attorney with experience in workplace harassment and other employment issues could help harassment victims pursue damages from the responsible parties. The attorney could prepare and present the case in court and negotiate any potential settlement for damages.

Source: LA Times, "Ex-aide to Councilman Mitchell Englander files harassment suit", David Zahniser, October 18, 2013

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