Former San Diego mayor faces new sex harassment allegations

Frank S. Clowney III

On Aug. 15, another woman filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner who resigned in August 2013 after several other women accused him of sexually harassing them. Following his resignation, the man pleaded guilty to one felony and two misdemeanor charges arising from the allegations and received a 90-day house arrest sentence. In February, the City of San Diego also settled a claim brought by a former communications director for $250,000.

In the new lawsuit, the former employee alleges numerous inappropriate and harassing actions and behaviors perpetuated by the ex-mayor, including being kissed on the forehead, placed in a headlock, repeatedly solicited for sex and subjected to sexual commentary. In her complaint, the plaintiff alleges that the first act of sexual harassment, which occurred in February 2013, began a pervasive pattern that persisted for four months. She also alleges that a manager to whom she complained about the harassment downgraded her complaint.

Prior to the filing of her complaint, the woman filed a claim for $1.5 million in damages with the City of San Diego. On Feb. 6, she also filed a complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can take many forms and need not be explicit in order to be in violation of federal and state laws. A pattern of unwelcome and suggestive acts and comments such as touching and jokes can rise to the level of sexual harassment if it continues over time.

Federal and state statutes prohibit sexual harassment and provide protections for workers who believe they are being or have been harassed. In California, a person seeking relief from a sexually hostile work environment may be able to pursue a claim for damages in civil court after they have exhausted statutory administrative remedies.

Source: NBC San Diego, “New Sex Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against City, Ex-Mayor Bob Filner“, R. Stickney, August 23, 2014