SEXUAL HARASSMENT CHARGES FELL SAN DIEGO’S MAYOR « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


A Lesson in the Consequences of Alleged Quid Pro Quo Misconduct

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner resigns today in the wake of sexual harassment allegations from some 18 women over recent weeks. These include a former communications director, his former deputy campaign manager, a retired admiral, the president of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, a dean at San Diego State University, the director of government and military education at San Diego City College, a school psychologist, and a vocational nurse. The allegations include groping, headlocks, choke holds, blocking women from leaving his office, using visits from lobbyists to bargain for sexual favors, and preying on women at an event for sexually abused military personnel.

Michelle Taylor, the licensed vocational nurse, has been one of the most vocal accusers. At an August 6, 2013 news conference, flanked by her attorney Gloria Allred, Ms. Tyler claimed she met with the mayor on June 11, 2013 for his help with the Veterans Administration for a disabled former Marine injured while serving in Iraq. According to Ms. Tyler, Mayor Filner agreed to help so long as she agreed to have sex with him in return. She recalled the mayor began rubbing her arm while stating, “Relax, you are incredible. I will help your veteran. I want you to go out to dinner with me and spend time with me.” He allegedly asked if she was married and announced he would really like to be seen in public with her. Ms. Tyler asserted Mayor Filner also asked if he could call her and stated, “If we were not here in my office I would like to kiss you.”

At that conference, Ms. Allred stated, “Many people ask for help from their elected officials. To use his power as the Mayor of the City of San Diego to satisfy his sexual needs is clearly improper and should not be tolerated. This case is extremely serious as it involves conduct by Mayor Filner in the performance of his duties that clearly shows his abuse of power and his penchant to use his office to satisfy his sexual needs.”

It is illegal in California for a workplace supervisor to request sexual favors in exchange for job security, benefits or advancement (“quid pro quo,” Latin for “this for that” or “something for something”) Examples are a supervisor giving an employee benefits conditioned on sexual favors, offering to promote a subordinate if he/she will date the supervisor, or promising a pay raise in exchange for sex, threatening to fire or demote an individual if she or he refuses to sleep with the boss.

A California employer is strictly liable for its supervisor’s or agent’s quid pro quo damages an employee incurs as a result of a supervisor or agent’s quid pro quo sexual harassment. California employers are also required to take all reasonable steps to prevent any kind of harassment from occurring, including a written policies and supervisor and worker instruction. California Government Code 12950.1 requires any employer with 50 or more total employees and/or associated independent contractors to formally train its supervisors within six months of hiring or promotion and then every other year on sexual harassment prevention, investigation and resolution.

For employer assistance on harassment prevention and handling issues, including provision of the supervisor training required under Government Code 12950.1, contact our firm’s attorneys Tim Bowles or Cindy Bamforth.

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