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Sexual Harassment Suit Targets California Discrimination Attorney

A new sexual harassment case levels allegations against a disabled California lawyer. The case claims that the lawyer discriminated against employees and job applicants before firing one of the plaintiffs because she mentioned her concerns with these practices.

Four of the lawyer's former legal assistants joined together to file the sexual harassment suit. They claim that the lawyer made them undergo two weeks of "personal care" training before beginning their jobs as legal assistants. The lawyer, rendered quadriplegic after a drunk driver struck him in a hit-and-run accident, allegedly required them to spend this time learning how to care for him in case his usual care assistant was unavailable.

As part of the training, the women allegedly had to help their boss change into a swimming suit to bathe in a tub. After his soak, the women had to rub lotion on his body and dress him again. They claim that they were afraid to complain about these duties because of concerns that the lawyer would fire them from their actual jobs as legal assistants.

One of the plaintiffs raised even more serious allegations. According to her complaint, the lawyer told her not to interview any applicants who met certain criteria. He allegedly did not want to even consider men, unattractive women, or women older than age 30. Of course, federal employment laws prohibit discriminating against people on the basis of age or gender. If these allegations are true, it looks as if this lawyer violated both of those provisions by writing off otherwise-qualified applicants.

When this plaintiff raised her concerns about this behavior with her employer, he fired her. This may also constitute unlawful retaliation. Of course, the plaintiffs have yet to prove any of their allegations. While the plaintiffs might argue that the care training was merely a pretext, it is entirely possible that the lawyer legitimately required them to be able to help him and did not do anything unlawful.

Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune, "Disabled ADA attorney accused of sexual harassment by four ex-employees," Axie Navas, Oct. 4, 201 

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