While the #metoo movement is shining a spotlight on sexual harassment and the dark corners of Hollywood, an increasing number of civil sexual assault cases are being filed, some against former supervisors, co-workers and the institutions that protected them when they owed a duty of care to the victim.
Here in California, one former agent is battling a civil lawsuit filed by a former client alleging sexual battery and sexual harassment. The agent has asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to stay the civil case until the statute of limitations expires on the criminal case, arguing that to proceed and participate in the civil case could result in self-incrimination leading to serious felony charges, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Defendant (through his attorney) vehemently denied the allegations. Of the request to stay, his attorney explained the civil complaint read like criminal charges and discovery requests made additional claims of criminal behavior, causing concern that testimony during the lawsuit could bring about formal charges.
This underscores the fact that many civil lawsuits may coincide with criminal charges, and while these are two totally separate processes operating independently of another (and sometimes with very different outcomes), there are times when one may have an impact on the other. A good employment law attorney will do everything possible to keep your case moving when that is in your best interests.
In this case, plaintiff accuses defendant of a sexual misconduct against her while he was her agent. She said he used his position of power to repeatedly sexually assault her and and attempt to assault her. She also accused him of drugging her drink and painting a narrative that sexual favors were the path to success in Hollywood.
Defendant, however, says plaintiff wasn’t a client of the agency defendant worked for at the time of filing. Regardless, plaintiff was fired after the lawsuit was filed. The agency said the dismissal was a result of new information they received about plaintiff. Defendant has filed a cross complaint against his previous employer, arguing he should be indemnified against this legal action because it stemmed from the performance of job-related duties.
While our experienced Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers don’t know all the details of this case, we do know that it is possible in some cases for a defendant to stay civil action if Fifth Amendment concerns will put a major snag in civil case discovery. As plaintiff’s attorney in this case noted, defendant’s fear of self-incrimination appears to bolster the assertion that plaintiff has been truthful about these interactions from the beginning.
Ever since October, when the New York Times published its expose of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and the numerous accusations of sexual misconduct against him, employers across the country have been facing increased scrutiny and exposure to civil litigation. Those in the entertainment industry have felt particularly empowered to share their own stories. Celebrities have been using their platforms to raise awareness, wearing black dresses and special pins to award shows.
You don’t have to be part of Hollywood to have your story heard. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination on the job, our best employment law attorneys can help fight for your rights. No one should have to feel unsafe on the job or that they have no recourse following sexual assault by a supervisor or co-worker. We will use our years of experience to work for you.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Mann v. Creative Arts Agency, et al, Feb. 20, Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles
More Blog Entries:
Weinstein Co. Must Answer Sexual Harassment Accusations in Court, Feb. 23, 2018, Employment Lawyer Blog