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May 2012

Employment Team Obtains Unanimous Defense Verdict in Sexual Harassment Matter

On May 7, 2012, the Employment team of Michael Lucey and Marie Trimble obtained a defense verdict for their client, a Bay Area restaurant ("the Restaurant"). The Plaintiff, a former waiter at the Restaurant, alleged claims for sexual harassment, failure to prevent harassment, and retaliation.

The plaintiff claimed that he had been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, and that after he complained about it, he was retaliated against by the Restaurant. He was terminated a short time after his last complaint.

In his four months of employment at the Restaurant, the waiter received four written warnings and several guest complaints, including three guest complaints in his final week of employment. The Restaurant terminated the waiter due to poor performance in April 2010. The Restaurant was able to show that the plaintiff's complaints were not only untrue, but made because the plaintiff knew that by making a complaint of harassment, he would be protected against any discipline. The evidence showed that the plaintiff knew about the non retaliation provisions of FEHA because he had not only sued prior restaurant employers, but he had made identical claims in each case. To make matters worse, the plaintiff admitted to lying on the resume and application that he submitted to the Restaurant. The admission of a false application was admitted under the "after acquired evidence" doctrine.

The jury returned with a unanimous defense verdict.


Marie Trimble Holvick