Former City Attorney's Office Worker Alleges Sexual Harassment

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A former longtime legal assistant for the City Attorney's Office is suing her ex-employer, alleging she was forced to resign in 2019 because of a backlash she suffered when she reported being sexually harassed by her supervisor.

Marlene Ramos' Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation, equal pay violation and failure to prevent discrimination and harassment.

The suit filed Wednesday seeks unspecified damages and a court order restraining the City Attorney's Office from condoning or permitting discrimination, harassment, retaliation and directing the agency to sensitize employees about the harms caused by retaliation.

A representative for the City Attorney's Office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Ramos says she was hired in January 1990 and often received positive evaluations that met or exceeded standards. She also was recognized by crime victims' family members and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, according to her court papers.

But almost weekly from April to November 2018, Ramos' supervisor, a deputy city attorney III who is not a defendant in her case, summoned her into his office, closed the door and “gawked at her breasts and genitalia while demanding that plaintiff stare into his eyes,'' the suit alleges.

The plaintiff alleges the supervisor made “veiled suggestions of quid pro quo advances,'' telling her to “work with him in order to get a promotion.''

Ramos believed the supervisor's comments were suggestions that if she acquiesced to his overtures, she would be promoted, the suit states.

Ramos, who says she left the boss' office “in tears'' after he made his alleged advances, claims he regularly walked behind her and rubbed her shoulders, “causing her to freeze in dread.''

Ramos “repeatedly objected to (her supervisor's) conduct as demeaning and dehumanizing,'' according to the suit.

In October 2018, Ramos says she twice complained about her boss' alleged conduct to the Human Resources Director, but no action was taken. Instead, the director called Ramos “insubordinate'' and said her boss' conduct was “stress-related,'' the suit alleges.

The supervisor's alleged conduct was considered so open and routine by other employees that they routinely chided Ramos and asked her inappropriate questions about what her boss had done that day, according to the suit.

Ramos' husband filed a complaint with the city's Equal Employment Opportunity Division in November 2018, the suit states. Although the City Attorney's Office moved the plaintiff's boss to an adjacent office, he was still her supervisor, according to the plaintiff.

Ramos was later placed on administrative leave for an unauthorized use of overtime pay, an allegation she maintains was baseless and instigated by her boss, the suit states. Meanwhile, the City Attorney's Office refused to investigate her EEO complaint and she was told that any sexual harassment investigation was superseded the internal investigation of her alleged unauthorized overtime, the suit states.

“Faced with an unreasonable choice between putting her retirement benefits in jeopardy and defending herself against pretextual and retaliatory charges, Ramos was forced to resign from her employment'' in April 2019, the suit states.

Photo: Getty Images

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