A former First 5 Riverside employee brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against the County alleging that a former Riverside public health officer had made inappropriate comments to her during the course of her employment. Pamela Luna notified her superiors at First 5 of the harassment and improper behavior but claimed that she was the target of retaliations for her complaints.
The case was settled last year and Riverside County will pay $490,000 to Luna for the alleged sexual harassment, gender discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and retaliation.
The County contested the lawsuit, claiming that Luna had failed to make use of the County’s own grievance system to address the allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The County further claimed that Luna should have, but did not, tell Dr. Eric Frykman that his words were unwelcome or his behaviors inappropriate. Frykman was the public health official at the center of the allegations.
The lawsuit was filed in April of 2011. Frykman left the County for private employment in September of 2011. There is no information as to whether Frykman left because of the suit.
The County claims that its willingness to settle the lawsuit was based, at least in part, on the high cost of litigating the merits of Luna’s claim.
Source: The Press-Enterprise, “RIVERSIDE COUNTY: Sexual harassment suit settled for $490,000,” January 17, 2012