Category Archives: Verdicts & Awards

San Diego SEXUAL HARRASSMENT – P.F. CHANG’S

Category : Verdicts & Awards

 

San Diego SEXUAL HARRASSMENT – P.F. CHANG’S | Hogue Belong LAw

Case: Andrade, et al. v. P.F. Chang’s, et al. (Case No. 37-2012-00058424-CU-OE-NC; Arbitration Case No. 73-160-00121-13)

Court: Superior Court of San Diego

Judge: Earl H. Maas, III – (compelled to AAA Arbitration)

Date: July 25, 2014

Result: Hogue & Belong obtained an award in the amount of $931,200.00, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

Facts & Allegations

Plaintiffs Linda Andrade and Liliana Avila were both employees at P.F. Chang’s. Ms. Andrade worked for the restaurant in Carlsbad, and Ms. Avila works for the restaurant in La Jolla.

Shortly after Mses. Andrade and Avila filed their civil action, P.F. Chang’s moved to compel arbitration. P.F. Chang’s motion was granted, and the case proceeded to arbitration. Both Mses. Andrade and Avila worked in the kitchens (termed Back of House “BOH”) of their respective P.F. Chang’s restaurants.

Ms. Avila’s supervisor was Angel Mendoza, the Culinary Partner. She began working at P.F. Chang’s in 2011 when she was just 20 years old. Mendoza is over twice Ms. Avila’s age. As early as the first week of her employment, Ms. Avila became subjected to sexual comments and conduct by the male kitchen staff. The sexually offensive comments included: sexual jokes with double meanings; comments about female co-workers being fat; derogatory comments about homosexuals, references to males’ penises; comments like, “look at her ass,” and “would you do her?”; comments about the size and firmness of females’ buttocks and breasts; asking Ms. Avila and other females if they were “happily married”; cat calls at female employees like “hey, mamacita,” “hey bonita,” “can I have your number?,” “when are we going out?,” “I’ll see you at home,” “text me later,” “you’re my girlfriend, right?,” “hola bebe;” making kissing and whistling noises at female employees walking by; and calling female employees “table dancers.”

Ms. Avila witnessed male kitchen employees make pedophilic comments, mostly by Vincente Jaimes (aka “Topo”), about her co-worker’s 11 year-old daughter whenever she came to the restaurant. Specifically, Ms. Avila witnessed male employees say “sonar el timbre,” which translates to “she can ring the bell,” and in Spanish meant that this eleven year-old girl was “old enough to reach a man’s penis to give oral sex.” Topo would also tell female employees he was going to lick their toes; and refer to female employees as “sluts.” Topo would also tightly hug female co-workers, rubbing his hand up and down their bodies, and on at least two occasions kissed female co-workers on the neck, leaving saliva.

Notably, Topo was a long term P.F. Chang’s employee who continues to work at the P.F. Chang’s La Jolla restaurant today. Vincente Jaimes was not even Topo’s real name. It was discovered that he was borrowing a person by the name of “Vincente Jaimes” social security number. P.F. Chang’s discovered that Topo was using another person’s social security number, but simply allowed Topo to obtain another social security number and remain employed.

Other offensive conduct included the kitchen employees watching pornography on their smart phones, and dry humping various kitchen utensils, such as large whisks. The male cooks stuck their tongues in the tongs and moved their tongues up and down and side to side, simulating licking a woman’s vagina. Ms. Avila often witnessed the male cooks poke each other in the anus while calling each other gay, and witnessed male kitchen employees use cucumbers and eggplants as penises and to simulate masturbation.

Additionally, pregnant women would sometimes have to endure male caresses of their visible pregnancy area, usually accompanied by either questions or boasts about the identity of the father.

Court: Superior Court of San Diego  Judge: Earl H. Maas, III – (compelled to AAA Arbitration)  Date: July 25, 2014  Result: Hogue & Belong obtained an award in the amount of $931,200.00, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.Male cooks would walk behind other co-workers when they were bent over, and thrust their hips back and forth, simulating sex with them. Male cooks would do this to Ms. Avila whenever she needed to bend over to scoop rice.

Shortly after her employment, Mendoza, Ms. Avila’s supervisor, would make comments to her such as you have a beautiful smile. Later, Mendoza’s comments escalated into you have beautiful lips. Ms. Avila was married, but Mendoza would frequently ask why Ms. Avila doesn’t she date more men, as well as are you happily married. At least twice he put his hand on her back, starting in the middle of her back and rubbing down to just above her buttocks.

Mendoza also cornered Ms. Avila in a secluded corner of the restaurant, and attempted to kiss her. After Ms. Avila admonished Mendoza, he approached her again, later that day, stuck his finger in vanilla sauce, and then shoved his finger in Ms. Avila’s mouth. Other restaurants, including Irvine, Mission Viejo, and Chula Vista have reported squeezing the vanilla sauce into female co-workers faces, and making comments such as “look, you have cum on your face.”

Ms. Avila complained about Mendoza’s conduct, and P.F. Chang’s decided to transfer Mendoza to another restaurant. Ultimately, Mendoza was transferred to the Carlsbad restaurant. Nobody warned any personnel at the Carlsbad restaurant why Mendoza had been transferred in the first place, so nobody knew of his proclivity to sexually harass young workers.

While at Carlsbad, Mendoza began harassing another 20-year-old female employee, Ms. Andrade. Shortly after she was hired, Mendoza asked Ms. Andrade on a date. She refused. Mendoza asked Ms. Andrade out on a date a second time stating that they can use his paycheck. Mendoza would also comment on Ms. Andrade’s lips, and how much he liked seeing her wearing various different jeans.

Mendoza also began physically touching Ms. Andrade. He gave her daily hugs and sometimes approached her from behind to grab her shoulders. He rubbed her back and slid his hands from her shoulders down her back to the top of her buttocks approximately 15 times.

Later, on Mother’s Day, 2012, when Andrade was handing out lemonade to the BOH cooks and began to hand Mendoza a glass of lemonade, Mendoza looked at her and said, in Spanish, “mejor dame un beso,” meaning “instead give me a kiss.” Ms. Andrade rejected this request for a kiss and walked away.

Mendoza stormed after Ms. Andrade, called her a “whore,” and told her that she “wears too much makeup.” Then, he forcibly ripped off a kitchen glove she was wearing, yelled at her for wearing nail polish to work, and sent her home.

Almost all of the sexually offensive conduct that occurred at the La Jolla restaurant, occurred at the Carlsbad restaurant, including comments like “I fucked that bitch last night;” “She would suck my dick;” and “I’ll stick my dick in her.” Kitchen staff at the Carlsbad restaurant falsely claimed that Ms. Andrade had given a male employee oral sex in the car. learn more

Plaintiff Attorney(s): Jeffrey L. Hogue and Tyler J. Belong of Hogue & Belong.

Plaintiffs’ Experts: Victoria Dellaverson (Emotional Distress Expert) and Scott Barer (Human Resources Expert)

Defense Attorney(s): Tim Murphy, Jeffrey Thurrell, and James Fessenden of Fisher & Phillips for defendant P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, and Jennifer Lutz of Pettit Kohn for defendant Angel Mendoza.


SEXUAL HARRASSMENT – AFG

Case: Jacqueline Slaymaker and Laura Arnold v. Armstrong Financial Group, Inc., Eric Armstrong, and R. Edde (Case No. 37-2012-00054141-CU-OE-NC)

Court: Superior Court of San Diego

Judge: Robert P. Dahlquist

Date: May 8, 2014

Result: Hogue & Belong obtained a jury verdict, with a finding of punitive liability, for a total award of $838,875.00.

Facts & Allegations

Plaintiffs Jacqueline Slaymaker and Laura Arnold were both employees at Armstrong Financial Group. Armstrong Financial Group is a financial recruiting firm located in Carlsbad.

Ms. Slaymaker began her employment with Armstrong Financial Group in June 2009. A few weeks into her employment, she began getting invites to “passion parties” where sex toys are sold from the Director of Operations, and another co-worker. The female co-worker that sat immediately behind her would promote her husband’s sex toy business on the phone during work hours.

The owner, co-defendant Eric Armstrong, sent his staff an email containing a joke about someone having sex with a pumpkin. Mr. Armstrong also told Ms. Slaymaker that the ideal anniversary gift to give her boyfriend was to have lesbian sex in front of him.

R. Edde, a co-defendant and employee at Armstrong Financial Group, would frequently turn benign conversations into a joke with a sexual conotation. R. Edde also sent a picture of two golf balls with “R. Edde” enscribed on each golf ball; the body of the email said, “I thought I’d show you a tasteful picture of my balls.” Mr. Edde sent many more emails with similar sexual undertones. Another female co-worker pulled up her shirt and asked Ms. Slaymaker to touch her breasts during a work event.

Eric Armstrong showed both Ms. Slaymaker and Ms. Arnold a “sexual sensitivity training” video where the male students had laser glasses on that indicated wherever the student was looking. As the video went on, the laser beams showed that the students were viewing the instructor’s crotch area and then the lasers focused on a donkey’s penis. Later, when a young woman entered the scene and asked if she could help, all of the red dots were focused in on her breasts, and ultimately her breasts caught on fire. Mr. Armstrong also showed employees a video that he created himself, where his staff was drinking alcohol, and at the end of the video a beer bottle was held up to a baby’s mouth.

Ms. Slaymaker complained to Mr. Armstrong on at least three occasions, but beyond speaking with co-defendant R. Edde and another offending co-worker one time, nothing was ever done.

In June 2007 Ms. Arnold began her employment at Armstrong Financial Group. Along with watching the “sexual sensitivity training” video referenced above on her very first day, Mr. Armstrong would make comments such as “do you want to see my porn collection,” and “I want to be hung like John Holmes.” After a work event, Mr. Armstrong drove to Ms. Arnold’s house, threw up in her bushes, and came into her house uninvited, and then passed out on her floor while Ms. Arnold waited until he woke up to call him a cab. Mr. Armstrong also sent Ms. Arnold a distasteful email joke about pornography.

Ms. Slaymaker and Ms. Arnold ultimately resigned on March 2011, and April 2011, respectively.

During discovery, Hogue & Belong were denied key evidence. Due to the Court’s rulings they were deprived of acquiring “me too” evidence from Messrs. Armstrong and R Edde’s computers. Furthermore, Hogue & Belong were denied the opportunity to even depose Messrs. Armstrong and R. Edde prior to trial. Thus, the Plaintiffs proceeded to trial without any such evidence. Learn More

Plaintiff Attorney(s): Hogue & Belong

Defense Attorney(s): David Veljovich of the Veljovich Law Group, and Dimetri Reyzin of the Reyzin Law Firm for defendants Eric Armstrong and Armstrong Financial Group, and David Graves of Laturno & Graves for defendant Ron Edde.


San Diego REAL ESTATE FRAUD Attorney

 

San Diego REAL ESTATE FRAUD Attorney | Hogue & Belong Law

Case: Chalmers Keith Parker, and Juanita Parker v. MAC Industries, Inc., Michael Allen Cox, Nancy Ann Guerra, and Christopher Gene Guerra (Case No. 37-2008-00103306-CU-OR-SC)

Court:  Superior Court of San Diego County, Hall of Justice

Judge(s): William S. Cannon, Keith Medel, Timothy B. Talyor

Date:   March 22, 2013

Result: Total Judgment = $1,009,969.48 ($617,679.48 against Michael Cox and MAC Industries, Inc. and $392,290.00 against Nancy Anne Guerra and Christopher Gene Guerra).

Facts & Allegations

Defendant Michael Cox owned a real estate brokerage called MAC Industries.  MAC Industries was a California corporation conducting business all over California, and also in Washington, and Nevada.  Nancy Ann Guerra and Christopher Gene Guerra were co-conspirators who aided Cox in his fraudulent real estate scheme.  Cox, MAC, Nancy Ann Guerra, and Christopher Gene Guerra will sometimes be referred to as the “Defendants.”

More specifically, Cox would create so-called “investor groups.”   Then, Cox would direct these “investor” groups to purchase, sell, and then repurchase and resell properties from each “investor group” for higher and higher prices in order to earn commissions and other fees from each purchase and sale transaction.

The Guerras were complicit in this real estate ponzi scheme and would arrange the financing for Cox’s “investors,” and fraudulently qualify them for loans they were not qualified to obtain.  As a result, the Guerras earned additional compensation for brokering the loans the “investor” would obtain in order to acquire the subject property.

Plaintiffs were among these “investors.”  Cox and MAC created a straw-man purchaser to prevent a non-MAC “investor” from purchasing the property.   Defendant MAC wished to prevent all buyers, except for MAC “investor” buyers, so that defendant MAC could represent both the buyer and the seller of the property, and assure themselves twice the normal commission from the real estate purchase and sale transaction.  Plaintiffs ended up selling their home.

Then, Cox and MAC convinced Plaintiffs to have Plaintiffs use the proceeds of the sale of their home to invest in additional real property chosen by MAC and Cox and obtaining loans involving the Guerras who worked for Cox.  MAC and MAC and Cox received commissions on each of these purchase and loan transactions as well.

San Diego REAL ESTATE FRAUD AttorneyAdditionally, the Defendants also convinced the Plaintiffs to refinance an existing home that they owned so that they could pull cash out and use it to purchase additional investment properties that Cox would choose.

Cox arranged for Plaintiff’s money to be tied up in a 1031 exchange and executed purchases of three properties for Plaintiffs.  Cox and MAC made material representations about each of the three purchases, that caused Plaintiff’s out of pocket losses, a foreclosure on one of the properties, and short sales of the other two properties.  The Plaintiffs were over 60 years old and lost their life savings due to the above-described real estate ponzi scheme. learn more


CLASS ACTION San Diego (Wage & Hour) Attorney

Category : Verdicts & Awards

 

CLASS ACTION San Diego (Wage & Hour) Attorney| Hogue & Belong Law

Case:  Muldrow v. Surrex Solutions Corporation (Case No.: 37-2008-00050872-CU-OE-NC)

Court:  Superior Court of San Diego

Judge: Thomas P. Nugent

Date:   August 31, 2012

Facts & Allegations

Surrex Solutions was a nationwide wide IT recruiting firm, with its headquarters in southern California. Surrex employed Consulting Service Managers who helped recruit IT professionals and place them with employers. Consulting Service Managers were paid an average of approximately $60,000 “draw” with the potential to earn commissions. However, very few persons earned commissions.

Tyrone Muldrow, a former Consulting Service Manager, brought a class action lawsuit against his former employer asserting various wage & hour claims, including, among other things, compensation for missed overtime.

Surrex denied all allegations asserting that its Consulting Service Managers were exempt under either the commissioned-employee or the administrative exemption under IWC Wage Order 4.

In a published decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the trial court classifying these Consulting Service Managers as exempt employees under the commissioned employee exemption. The Court of Appeal declined to follow federal law, and found that the class members were commissioned-employees even though the majority of employees do not earn commissions above their draw, and even though their commission earnings were calculated according to a convoluted formula that most class members did not understand.

CLASS ACTION San Diego (Wage & Hour) AttorneyPlaintiffs petitioned to the California Supreme Court and the Supreme Court took up the case for review. Upon review, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the Court of Appeal with further instructions to analyze the case in light of the outcome of the recently decided California Supreme Court case of Brinker v. Superior Court. Then, the Court of Appeal reaffirmed their original decision. However, the Court of Appeal specifically noted that Plaintiffs new argument that Surrex “discouraged” meal periods and breaks was not considered. The Muldrow case is widely recognized and has been discussed at length. learn more


San Diego Sexual Harassment

Category : Verdicts & Awards

Case: Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II v. Roe Specialty Pharmacy

Court: Superior Court of Orange County

Judge: Linda S. Marks

Date: September 10, 2010

Recovery: Hogue & Belong obtained a $295,000 settlement against Roe Specialty Pharmacy.

Facts and Allegations

Roe Specialty Pharmacy had a group of Territory Managers that would promote the Pharmacy and related services.  Territory Managers worked predominantly out of the office.  On occasion, Territory Managers would attend special events and have to do one-on-one “ride alongs” with his or her supervisor.

Jane Doe I was hired by Roe Specialty Pharmacy as a Territory Manager.  Supervisor A supervised Jane Doe I without incident.  Approximately five months later, Roe Specialty Pharmacy changed Jane Doe I’s supervisor to Supervisor B.  From the beginning, Supervisor B would send Jane Doe I inappropriate text messages repeatedly asking for Jane Doe I to give him massages as well as repeatedly asking her to go out for drinks with him.  Supervisor B would send text messages to Jane Doe I with innuendos that he was masturbating and that he and Jane I were going to have sexual intercourse.  Jane Doe I tried her best to keep Supervisor B at bay by either ignoring these text messages all together or changing the subject back to business when responding.  This went on for about four months.

Jane Doe I was called into a meeting at Starbucks with Supervisor B and his boss, the Vice President.  The Vice President terminated Jane Doe I’s employment, offered her a small severance if she signed a severance agreement that prevented any actions against the Pharmacy, and asked for the company cell phone that contained all the text messages from Supervisor B back.  Jane Doe I said she left the phone at home, and refused to sign the severance agreement.  Supervisor B and the Vice President suggested that they follow Jane Doe I home so that she could obtain the phone.  Jane Doe I declined.

Approximately one year later after Jane Doe I filed suit, Jane Doe II made a claim that she was also sexually harassed by Supervisor B.  Among other things, Supervisor B would text message Jane Doe II asking what she was doing over the weekend.  Supervisor B also held Jane Doe II’s hand against her will. Jane Doe II complained about Supervisor B to the Vice President and to the President of Roe Specialty Pharmacy.  Nothing was done.  Jane Doe II and Supervisor B were both married.  Jane Doe II’s complaint about Supervisor B’s harassment came several months before Supervisor B harassed Jane Doe I.


Orange County CLASS ACTION Lawyer

 

Orange County CLASS ACTION Lawyer | Hogue & Belong Law

Case: Wolfe v. A-Med Health Care, Inc. (Case No. 30-2010-00423004-CU-OE-CXC)

Court: Superior Court of Orange County – Complex Division

Judge: David Velasquez, Ronald Bauer, and Steven Perk

Date: November 5, 2010

Recovery: Hogue & Belong obtained a settlement of $140,000 against A-Med Health Care.

Facts & Allegations

A-Med Health Care is a Specialty Pharmacy.  It employs approximately 300 employees.  A-Med Health Care also employs 8-10 Territory Managers at any one time to promote the services A-Med’s pharmacy provides. A-Med classified the Territory Managers as “exempt” from the labor code.

Orange County CLASS ACTION LawyerThe Territory Managers are assigned specific territories and visit various health care providers in those assigned territories to promote what A-Med offers in the hopes that these health care providers would start using and directing its patients to use A-Med’s services. The Territory Managers passed out pre-approved marketing materials, and would have little knick-knacks to pass out during these visits.  Also, Territory Managers would attend certain patient events, such as Cystic Fibrosis Walks to promote A-Med’s services.  The Territory Managers would pass out little sundries, like, for instance, water bottles with the A-Med logo on it.

Wolfe argued that the Territory Managers were “non-exempt” under the labor code and applicable wage statement.  A-Med argued that they were exempt under the Outside Salesperson or the Administrative Exemption.

The Court certified the class action, and the case settled shortly thereafter. learn more


Best San Diego SEXUAL Harassment Lawyers

Category : Verdicts & Awards

Best San Diego SEXUAL Harassment Lawyers | Hogue & Belong Law

Case: Drieslein v. San Diego State University Foundation, Ray DiCiccio, et al. consolidated for discovery purposes with Claypool v. San Diego State University Foundation, Ray DiCiccio, et al. (Case Nos. 30-2010-00104305-CU-OE-CTL; and 37-2011-00099344-CU-OE-CTL)

Court: Superior Court of San Diego

Judge: Joel M. Pressman

Date: November 17, 2010

Recovery:    Hogue & Belong was able to secure a $287,222 settlement against San Diego State University Foundation and Ray DiCiccio.

Facts & Allegations

Patricia Drieslein and June Claypool were both employees at San Diego State University Fondation working on a long-term alcohol prevention grant.  San Diego State University Foundation is a non-profit corporation  that sponsors government  funded  grants.

Their supervisor, Ray DiCiccio, constantly flirted with both plaintiffs.  He constantly made comments such as “Boy you look hot today,” “how are my wounded birds,” “You’re a single mom who can’t do anything right,” and “You owe me, given our history together” – referring to his previous sexual advances toward one of the plaintiffs.  He would also massage their shoulders and the shoulders of other female co-workers in the office.  Ray DiCiccio would also touch their thighs and knees in the office.  He had also asked about their sex life under the guise that he was a trained counselor who just wanted to help.

During the weekend, he made a home trip to one of the plaintiff’s homes to discuss a business plan.  Shortly after his arrival he asked for a massage.  He then asked to see this plaintiff’s breasts.  Ray DiCiccio was married to another San Diego State University employee at the time.

Whenever the plaintiffs resisted and rebuffed Mr. DiCiccio’s sexual advances, he would threaten their jobs. The human resources department at San Diego State University and Ray DiCiccio’s boss, John Clapp, claimed to have no knowledge of Ray DiCiccio’s activities, so his conduct continued unabated.

Ray DiCiccio’s treatment of the plaintiffs became so intolerable that they were forced to resign.  Plaintiff Patricia Drieslein resigned in May 2009, and June Claypool resigned in December 2009 after reporting the harassment to the human resources department. learn more

Plaintiff Attorney(s): Hogue & Belong

Defense Attorney(s): Dana J. Mccune & Christine J. Exton, Mccune & Harber, Los Angeles, CA (San Diego State University Foundation); Alex M. Outwater & Margaret C. Bell, Andrews, Lagasse, Branch & Bell, San Diego, CA (San Diego State University Foundation); and Nancy P. Doumanian, Doumanian & Associates, Glendale, CA (Ray DiCiccio)


San Diego Wage & Hour Lawyers

Category : Verdicts & Awards

 

San Diego Wage & Hour Lawyers | Hogue & Belong Law

Case: Britt, et al. v. Scripps Hospital, et al. (Case No. 37-2010-00096421-CU-OE-CTL)

Court: Superior Court of San Diego County

Judge: Steven R. Denton

Date: July 21, 2010

Facts & Allegations

San Diego Wage & Hour LawyersPlaintiffs Miranda Britt, Cathy Cathey, and Barbara Johnson were non-exempt employees and entitled to overtime. Scripps had  an automated clock-in and clock-out system called Kronos.  Kronos would round its employees time to the  nearest quarter of  an hour.  Due to their policies, this practice caused a systematic undercompensation of its employees.  Scripps also did not incorporate all of its benefits into the regular rate of pay, thereby depriving its employees of some overtime compensation.

In February 2012, the Court certified a class of approximately 16,000 employees.  This case is currently ongoing. learn more


CLASS ACTION (Wage & Hour) San Diego Superior Court

CLASS ACTION (Wage & Hour) San Diego Superior Court | Hogue & Belong Law

Case:  Nesbitt v. Access Nurses, Inc. (Case Nos. 37-2009-00090248-CU-OE-CTL.)

Court: San Diego Superior Court

Judge: Steven R. Denton

Date:   May 21, 2009

Result:  Quarterly payout extending over a 3 year period. 

Facts & Allegations

CLASS ACTION (Wage & Hour) San Diego Superior Court

The Law Office of Hogue | Belong – San Diego

Plaintiff, Jessica Nesbitt, was an employee of Access Nurses, Inc. who recruited traveling nurses.  Jessica Nesbitt, and about 200 other recruiters, were paid a salary and consistently worked more than 8 per day, and frequently missed meal periods.  These traveling nurse recruiters were supervised by a team of 3 people.  Access Nurses did not compensate its recruiters for overtime worked, or for lunch periods they missed.

Jessica Nesbitt, on behalf of herself and all other recruiters, sued Access Nurses and claimed that, based on their job duties, the recruiters were misclassified and were not exempt from the overtime and meal period laws.

Defendant denied all allegations, claiming that the class members were properly classified as “exempt” either under the salesperson exemption or the administrative exemption under the applicable IWC Wage Orders.

Plaintiff Attorney(s): Hogue & Belong learn more

Defense Attorney(s): King & Ballow


San Diego Sexual Orientation Discrimination (Harassment) Attorney

Case:  Deborah Hardison v. Hinkle Automotive Management Company, Inc., Poway CJ, Inc., Wes Hinkle, individually and Steven Ausencio, individually (Case No. 37-2009-00082050-CU-OE-CTL)

Court:  Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego

Judge:  Luis Vargas

Arbitrator: Thomas Neal Thrasher

Date:   July 8, 2010

Result: The parties agreed to a global settlement whereby for $135,000.

Facts & Allegations

Plaintiff, Deborah Hardison, a lesbian in her late 40s and parts driver, worked in the parts department at the Poway Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership in Poway, CA, that was owned and operated by Hinkle Automotive Management Company, Inc.  During her employment, she claimed she was subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination by her supervisor, Steven Ausencio, and other employees of the parts department. She was then terminated from her position in February 2008.

San Diego Sexual Orientation Discrimination (Harassment) AttorneyHardison and other witnesses testified that Ausencio regularly called her, “pussy-eater” and “carpet-muncher” and would refer to her as “dyke,” “lesbian,” “man,” “dude,” and “that dude over there.” Hardison claimed Ausencio would flick his tongue up and down suggestively and that he also admittedly simulated masturbation by rubbing his neck and spitting spastically at her feet.

Hardison recounted that Ausencio told her he could “switch her to the other side” if she would just “blow him,” and, “[t]his is a man’s world; if you don’t like it, I can give you your walking papers.” Hardison testified that Ausencio showed her his penis on two occasions and grabbed her from behind in a bear hug and thrust his genital area into her back and buttocks. She alleged other misconduct as well.

Hardison claimed she complained to the general manager about some of the misconduct and that he told her that he would handle the situation and that the very next day, Ausencio ordered Hardison never to go over his head again “or else” and reminded her that everyone in the parts department had his back. Hardison claimed the harassing treatment escalated at that point, and Ausencio issued multiple write-ups to her and eventually terminated her.

Hardison sued Poway CJ, Ausencio, Hinkle Automotive Management Company, Inc. and Wes Hinkle all for sexual harassment and discrimination, based on her sexual orientation, as well as wrongful termination.

Defendant, Poway CJ filed bankruptcy and stayed the action.  Hogue & Belong successfully lifted the bankruptcy stay.  The case was eventually ordered to arbitration.

Defendants’ denied all of Hardison’s allegations, claiming that she had an attendance problem, and was a poor performer.

Plaintiff Attorney(s): Hogue & Belong learn more

Defense Attorney(s): Christopher C. Hoffman & Megan C. Winter, Fisher & Phillips, La Jolla, CA (Hinkle Automotive Management Company, Inc., Poway CJ, Inc., Wes Hinkle); and Jerrilyn T. Malana, Littler Mendelson, PC, San Diego, CA (Steven Ausencio)

 


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