Former Executive Claims Van Nuys Clothing Co. President Forced Into Sexual Relationship

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Identified as Jane Doe in an attempt at privacy, a former executive of Van Nuys clothing company has filed suit alleging that she was fired after she complained that the company founder’s married son coerced her into a sexual relationship. The lawsuit was filed in Low Angeles Superior Court and cites Jerry Leigh of California Inc. (JLC) and Andrew Leigh as Defendants. Andrew Leigh is described as the current president of the firm in the lawsuit. The firm was founded in 1962 by his father, Jerry Leigh.

The plaintiff in the case described her experience at the company in frank terms. She claims that she felt like Mr. Leigh’s personal sex slave and that she had to comply with his demands, at any time, whenever he wanted to have sex. She claims he even arranged for her to say in a “sex pad.” Allegations included in the suit are: wrongful termination, gender violence, sexual harassment, sexual battery, retaliation and failure to provide a harassment-free workplace. The plaintiff seeks unspecified damages.

The Defendant, JLC, has a number of licensing agreements with high profile companies, including: Sanrio Co. Ltd., Disney, Warner Bros., etc. They also own 100% of the David Lerner New York brand.

The plaintiff was hired by JLC with primary job duties to work with Lerner and report to Andrew Leigh. In June 2012, she was promoted to Vice President of Design of the Lerner fashion line. During her first two years with the company, Andrew Leigh flirted with Doe, who was also married. Initially, the plaintiff brushed off Leigh’s flirtatious advances because she had worked extremely hard to obtain the highly competitive spot as brand director and didn’t want to cause any trouble at the company.

In August 2013, Andrew Leigh and Doe were on a business trip to Las Vegas. During this trip, the situation escalated when Leigh’s flirtatious advances evolved to inappropriate touching. The inappropriate touching occurred after the Doe agreed to dance with Leigh. Doe, the plaintiff, states that she was shocked and alarmed when this occurred and that she told him to stop.

For the few months following the Vegas incident, Andrew Leigh pursued Doe continuously. During this same time period, Andrew Leigh developed a dispute with Lerner and Lerner was fired.

In October 2013, Andrew Leigh invited himself into Doe’s hotel room during a business trip to Portland. He then opened a bottle of wine and forced himself on the plaintiff. Later, Andrew Leigh leased a company-subsidized apartment in Century City where he kept alcohol and expected Doe, who was experiencing trouble in her own marriage, to have sexual relations with him so he didn’t need to worry about his wife finding out about his activities.

In October, Doe sent a text to Andrew Leigh requesting a leave of absence so she could deal with her stress, nothing that the sexual relationship with him was causing her “severe distress, both at work and in her personal life.” Andrew Leigh found the message irritating and did not apologize, try to accommodate Doe’s request or make amends in any way. October 23rd, Doe submitted a note from a doctor that justified her request for medical leave, but she received a termination letter and a final check from JLC the next day. The plaintiff alleges that she was terminated from her position in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment and in retaliation for requesting medical leave.

If you are dealing with sexual harassment at work or if you have been wrongfully terminated due to sexual harassment claims or other employee protected legal actions, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Former Planet Fitness Manager Makes Allegations of Harassment and Rape

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A former manager of a Planet Fitness sued the well-known gym claiming that the company supported a male-dominated, and “debaucherous” workplace. Among her complaints are allegations of sexual harassment and rape. Senior management for the Planet Fitness location headquarters organized drinking activities for the employees. For example, “Fireball Friday.”

Fireball Friday games had employees competing to drink the most shots in the least amount of time at work. One manager also brought vodka-based gummy worms to work. Casey Willard joined the company in 2015. When she was new on the job, she followed her managers’ direction and doing so sometimes left her at work and drunk by 11:00 in the morning.

Willard filed suit against Planet Fitness in September. Amid a number of employment law violations, Willard also alleges that she was drugged and raped by a company manager and his friends during a September 2017 business trip to California. According to the lawsuit, she reported the rape to the local police and to Planet Fitness. It is not clear what became of the police report or what action was taken by law enforcement. Willard discussed the problem with two Planet Fitness attorneys and clearly stated that she didn’t want others at the company to know what happened to her, but later discovered that other managers knew of the situation.

Willard also claimed in the lawsuit that one of her managers initiated a sexual relationship with her; which was in violation of the company’s anti-fraternization policy. She was concerned that she might lose her job due to the situation. She eventually let the company know (earlier this year) that she couldn’t return to work.

Willard described the work environment at the Planet Fitness corporate offices as “debaucherous.” Senior management was mostly male and most of them made “openly sexual comments, sexual innuendo, and engaged in pretend sexual contact toward female employees.” In response to Willard’s claims, Planet Fitness states that they investigated Willard’s claims and fired an employee for violation of Planet Fitness policy. The company stated that they also discovered that Willard engaged in a consensual relationship with a supervisor that she didn’t bring to the company’s attention. That supervisor was also fired. The company disputes Willard’s other allegations and claims they are baseless.

Willard seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages arising from sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, discrimination and wrongful termination.

If you are fighting sexual harassment in the workplace or if you need to discuss what to do when your employer supports a hostile work environment, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.