Steve Wynn Accused of Sexual Harassment/Misconduct & Resigns from RNC Position

Though Steve Wynn is an American real estate mogul and art collector, he might be best known for his Las Vegas casino contributions. He has created some of the most famous hotels/casinos in Sin City including The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, and the Wynn and is worth an estimated $3.5 billion. And until a few days ago, he also happened to be the Republican National Committee Finance Chairman.  He resigned from this position after the sexual harassment allegations below came out by dozens of people over three decades.

Here is what we know about the allegations:

1/ Wynn allegedly pressured his employees to frequently perform sex acts. The abuse was so well known, that sometimes his employees would make fake appointments for their colleagues to protect them from being alone with him.

2/ Wynn paid out a $7.5 million settlement to his manicurist after he allegedly pressured her to lie on a massage table and have sex with him. She told Wynn she didn’t want to have sex because she was married but he persisted. 

3/ Wynn would expose his genitals during massage sessions and ask the women massaging him to “touch him.” 

4/ At times, Wynn would make sexual requests in a small space occupied by one or more of his German Shepards, a move that intimidated women into cooperation. 

Current GOP candidates are desperately trying to distance themselves from Wynn by redirecting his contributions to charitable organizations. Wynn denies the accusations, however, calling them preposterous. Instead, he believes his ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, may have something to do with it. 

What do you think of these latest sexual harassment allegations? 

Photo by James Walsh on Unsplash

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LA Times Publisher Under Investigation for Sexual Harassment

Publisher for The LA Times, Ross Levinsohn, is currently under investigation for past sexual harassment that resulted in two settlements. In addition, Levinsohn is being accused of displaying inappropriate behavior at work and creating a hostile work environment. Following NPR’s investigation, the Times’ parent company, Tronc, publicized that it will also be launching an investigation against him.

Levinsohn, who has been referred to as a digital media pioneer, has held top management positions at companies such as Yahoo and Fox. He’s held the position of publisher at the LA Times since August 2017. Here’s what we know about the allegations: 

1/ Levinsohn once forcefully kissed and rubbed up against a woman at an industry party despite being married.

2/ Levinsohn admitted, on record, that while he was employed at Alta Vista, he rated his female colleagues according to their attractiveness.

3/ Levinsohn once left a Hollywood Reporter-sponsored fashion event because he felt uncomfortable around all the gay men. He also used the slur “fags” when referring to homosexuals. 

Twelve LA Times’ editors have released a statement pledging their concern that Levinson’s inappropriate behavior might jeopardize the integrity of the 136-year publication. If the accusations are proven true, they don’t want him leading the organization.

While the investigation continues, Levinsohn has agreed to take a leave of absence from his role as trustee at the American University. 

Do you believe the only reason this story came out was because of the #metoo movement?

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

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Big Employment Defense Law Firm Ogletree Deakins Sued in $300M Class Action for Gender Discrimination by Current Partner

Dawn Knepper, a female lawyer, is suing Ogletree Deakins for gender discrimination in a class action on behalf of female partners. The class action complaint seeking $300 million alleges female partners make less than similarly situated male partners.  Though she asked to be paid the same amount as her male cohort with equivalent experience when she transferred to the firm’s Orange County office in 2012, she says her requests were not taken seriously.  Knepper alleges Ogletree paid her about $100,000 less than her male counterpart with similar experience and business. Here is what we know about the allegations: 

1/ The firm’s management is dominated by males, many of whom hold superior roles. 

2/ Knepper alleges that the male-dominated work culture “ marginalizes, demeans and undervalues women.”

3/ Though Ogletree Deakins claims to be an equal opportunity employer, Knepper alleges that 80 percent of the equity partners are men. 

4/ Though Knepper brought up the fact that she was underpaid in every shareholder compensation interview, her compensation was not increased. She also submitted unsuccessful follow-up appeals. 

5/ Knepper alleges that a male cohort prevented her from attending a business conference and speaking at a seminar, experiences that could have furthered her career. 

Though there are more female law school graduates, women tend to only make up 35 percent of employed lawyers at firms. Studies also show that female partners at big law firms earn an average of $300,000 less than male partners at such big firms.  

What do you think of these claims?  Is it really possible to do an apples to apples comparison for big law firm partners when so much of their compensation is based on business and not experience?

*Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

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Judge Accused of Sexually Harassing His Clerk

Robert A Bruno, a Long Island judge, is being sued for sexually harassing a former clerk from 2011 to 2016. Like so many women being harassed by their superior, Tricia Moriates felt that she couldn’t leave her job because she was the primary breadwinner of her household.

Here is what we now about the allegations:

  1. Moriates claims that Judge Bruno once grabbed her right breast and kissed her.
  2. Bruno allegedly called other female employees derogatory names such as “bitch”.
  3. Bruno frequently displayed inappropriate conduct towards Moriates as well as other female employees.
  4. Bruno gave gifts to Moriates and complimented her on her large breasts.
  5. Moriates claims that Bruno’s wife stalked her because she was jealous of the attention Bruno lavished on Moriates. 
  6. Moriates alleges that Bruno would brush up against her so that his penis was near her face.
  7. Moriates claims that Bruno would lock his office while Moriates was there (even though this was against the rules of the court.) He would then investigate the room for any “bugging devices” for fear of being recorded.
  8. Eventually Bruno became short with Moriates during work hours. 
  9. While on maternity leave, Bruno fired Moriates via text message without giving her a reason. 

After four years of sexual harassment, Moriates asked her supervisors if she could begin working from home. For fear of losing her job, she didn’t mention the harassment and so her request was denied. It was then that Moriates began to experience apprehension whenever she had to go to work. While at work, she began locking herself in her office in order to feel safe.

According to the suit, Moriates has not only suffered a loss of income and access to her pension, she has also incurred significant legal costs, emotional distress, and humiliation. In addition, she continues to experience damage to her personal and professional reputation. A spokesperson for the judge stands by the fact that, at this point, these are just allegations.

Does this prove that sexual harassment has no boundaries in our society?  If a judge can do it, anyone can.

*image by Claire Anderson

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Serial Sexual Harasser Accused of Putting His Penis in Co-Workers Sandwich

Vito Messina, a security officer at Indian Point nuclear power plant 26 miles north of Manhattan, New York, is being accused of sexually harassing his coworkers for decades. There have been three different lawsuits against him alleging inappropriate behavior. Here is what we know about the alleged harassment against him:

1/ Messina is being accused of telling James Tepperwein that he was going to touch him as much as he wanted. 

2/ Messina allegedly dug his fingernails into Tepperwein’s butt. 

3/ Messina asked a fellow security guard if he would ever have sex with a man. 

4/ A shop steward claimed the Messina assaulted him and his father.

5/ Perhaps the most disturbing allegation comes from coworkers who claim to have seen Messina place his penis inside of a female employee’s sandwich before returning it to the lunch table. 

Though Messina has a laundry list of fondling, grabbing, and propositioning harassment allegations against him, Indian Point affirms that no “formal” complaints were made against him between 2005-2016. Before he could be fired for his alleged inappropriate behavior, however, Messina retired, (good timing considering the entire plant will shut down for good in April of 2020.) 

Have you ever heard of anything like the sandwich allegation?  Wasn’t there an 80’s movies with something similar (not in the work setting)?

*image by Eaters Collective

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Woman Claims She Was Fired Twice Because She Was Pregnant

Ashley Lucas claims that she was recently fired twice for being pregnant from her job at Service Boss, Inc. In August 2015, Lucas filed suit alleging that she was hired in February 2014 and fired in April. She was then reinstated and fired again in June. At the time of both dismissals she was pregnant, but was able to perform job duties as normal and was a reliable employee.

Lucas alleges that management had made derogatory claims about her pregnancy and was told that:

(1) her pregnancy was making her unreliable;
(2) she shouldn’t be working while she was pregnant; and
(3) that she should file for welfare!

Lucas’ lawsuit claims that Service Boss violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which includes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). She’s seeking damages including back pay, legal fees and punitive damages and hopes to end the alleged practice of firing pregnant employees at Service Boss.

What do you think of these alleged comments to a pregnant woman in the workplace?

If you believe you have been fired or discriminated at work due to pregnancy, call Emanuel Shirazi today @ (310) 400-5891


Photo Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kit4na/

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Former USC Coach Steve Sarkisian is Suing School

On Monday Dec. 7, 2015 former head coach of USC football, Steve Sarkisian, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school. Sarkisian’s attorney alleges that he was fired the day after he took a leave of absence to seek treatment for alcohol abuse.

The complaint said that USC did not give Sarkisian the “reasonable accommodation” or allow him “time off to get help for his disability.” ESPN reports that Sarkisian was fired via Email by USC’s athletic director Pat Haden as he was headed to the rehabilitation center.

The lawsuit states:
“Under the circumstances of this case, California law required USC to make reasonable accommodation of giving Steve Sarkisian time off to get help for his disability and then return to his job. Instead, USC ignored both its obligations under California law and the commitments it made to Steve Sarkisian.”

In a widely publicized incident, (here), Sarkisian gave a speech at a pep rally where he cursed and slurred his speech. Sarkisian later apologized for the incident and said that he had mixed medication and alcohol.

The lawsuit says that Sarkisian’s contract was violated by USC’s refusal to pay him the remaining amount owed of $12.6 million.  Most employees are at-will, but Sarkisian had a contract.  Looks like USC is saying that it had good cause to justify terminating the long term contract early.

What do you think of Sarkisian’s claims?  Do you think someone whose alcoholism affects their work should still be able to keep their job?  

If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated, contact employment lawyer Emanuel Shirazi @ (310) 400-5891.

Photo Attribution: By Bobak Ha’Eri (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Tyler Perry Suing Former Employee

Tyler Perry, actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, producer, author, and songwriter, is suing a former employee, Joshua Sole, for criminal trespassing. Sole allegedly tampered with the alarms and surveillance equipment and climbed through a suspended ceiling at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta in order to come face-to-face with the media mogul. Because of this, Perry is suing Sole for over $100,000 in damages, claiming that he has felt uncomfortable at the property since the occurrence.

In addition to the $100,000, Perry is asking for $25,000 in attorney fees and a restraining order against Sole. He also wants Sole to undergo a mandatory psychological evaluation and treatment.

What do you think of Perry’s trespassing lawsuit against his former employee?

*image by Michael Dorausch, Flickr

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“The Bachelor” Race Discrimination Lawsuit Thrown Out of Court

Update from a previous post:

Several months back I wrote a post on the lawsuit filed by two African-American men who sued the shows “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” for race discrimination because they did not have African-American contestants (see my first post below).  Well, last week the judge dismissed the case on grounds that casting decisions by the network and the series’ producers are protected by the First Amendment.

The federal judge stated that while the Plaintiffs’ efforts are “laudable,” they cannot regulate the show’s content under the First Amendment.  The judge ruled that:  “Ultimately, whatever messages `The Bachelor’ and `The Bachelorette’ communicate or are intended to communicate – whether explicitly, implicitly, intentionally, or otherwise – the First Amendment protects the right of the producers of these shows to craft and control those messages, based on whatever considerations the producers wish to take into account”.

What do you think of this ruling on First Amendment grounds?  Wouldn’t then all discrimination be allowable as freedom of expression?

Comment below or at www.ShiraziLawFirm.com/blog

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:  Two African Americans are suing the long-running show “The Bachelor” for race discrimination.  The two men say that they—like many other African Americans—were not chosen by the show’s producers because of their race.

This case brings up two points.  First, most people think of race discrimination as being outlawed only by employment laws.  It seems unlikely that a Bachelor contestant would be an employee, but race discrimination laws can still apply.  Many states have civil rights laws prohibiting race discrimination in all sorts of situations—such as public accommodations.

Next, there is the question of whether there are exceptions to the civil rights and employment laws for such discrimination.  In the employment law context, many state laws have an “entertainment” exception.  For example, if a Broadway play or TV show is trying to cast someone to play the role of Martin Luther King, it is permissible to only hire/cast someone who is an African American male.

Now, The Bachelor does not have specific racial roles, but the producers may (rightly or wrongly) argue that their target audience is a specified gender, age, and race group.  This is a tough one to decide.  What do you think?

http://www.shirazilawfirm.com/suing-the-bachelor-for-race-discrimination/

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