Psychologist Challenges Former Assistant's Competence in Arbitration Demand

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - ``Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars'' host Venus ``Dr. V'' Nicolino and her husband are seeking a court order forcing arbitration of claims stemming from a dispute with a former employee who alleges in a lawsuit that they subjected him to disparate treatment and that Nicolino forced him to listen to accounts of her extramarital affairs.

Cameron Stewart brought the suit Feb. 17 in Los Angeles Superior Court against Nicolino, her spouse Matthew Johnson and Dr. V. Productions Inc.

The allegations include disability discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, wrongful termination and various state Labor Code violations. Stewart seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Along with being a television personality, Nicolino is a clinical psychologist and author. She began hosting ``Marriage Boot Camp'' on WeTV in the show's sixth season and has also appeared in the Bravo reality television series, ``LA Shrinks.''

In his suit, Stewart maintains he was put in charge of overseeing the couple's nannies, housekeepers and chefs and also was responsible for filing paperwork, scheduling appointments and contacting vendors for the couple and their children.

In a sworn declaration, Nicolino states that Stewart was hired last April 1 as an executive assistant and that he signed a three-page arbitration agreement.

``Within the first few weeks of his employment, it became plainly apparent that (Stewart) had never previously been a personal assistant, despite his claims on his resume and his verbal representations to (Nicolino and Johnson) concerning his past experiences and performance in such positions,'' according to court papers demanding arbitration that were filed against Stewart 10 days before he brought his lawsuit.

With the first few weeks of his employment, Nicolino and Johnson began believing that Stewart was experiencing serious physical health issues that also impacted his cognitive functioning, according to the defendants' court papers.

``Dr. Nicolino became worried about (Stewart's) physical and mental condition, as it is not normal for someone so young to experience such problems,'' the defendants' court papers state. ``He was habitually confused and disoriented and needed to be reminded numerous times about a single assignment.''

Nicolino provided Stewart with work-related feedback, but his performance declined rather than improved, the defendants' court papers state.

``It became plainly obvious to (Nicolino and Johnson) that (Stewart) could not perform the duties he was hired to perform,'' the defendants' court papers state.

Nicolino and Johnson began assigning tasks that should have been performed by Stewart to other employees and were ``actively sympathetic to (Stewart) in light of the health and personal problems that he represented were the cause of his performance issues,'' the defendants' court papers state, and he continued to receive his full salary.

But in early November, Nicolino and Johnson found out that Stewart had ``lied to them about nearly everything,'' according to the defendants' court papers. In addition, a drunken Stewart, while on a trip to Detroit with the couple's 13-year-old son for a hockey tournament, urged the boy while in the restroom to lift one leg up onto the sink so as to expose the child's private parts, according to the defendants' court papers.

Stewart told the boy that he wanted to show him how to take splinters out of his feet, but the teen ``was made very uncomfortable by this highly inappropriate behavior,'' told Stewart that he was ``crazy'' and refused to do what Stewart had asked him, according to the defendants' court papers.

Stewart then lifted and placed one of his own legs onto the sink, started to pull down his pants, then slipped and fell, breaking an ankle, according to the defendants' court papers.

Nicolino and Johnson also found out that Stewart has a ``serious history of alcohol abuse'' that he never disclosed and that he had apparently damaged his liver through excessive drinking, the defendants' court papers state.

In a statement provided by their attorney to City News Service, Nicolino and her husband called it ``disheartening'' that Stewart ``feels the need to make up lies about our family'' to pursue legal action. They also reiterated the claim raised in their court papers alleging alcohol abuse, adding, ``We wish Cameron all the best and hope he soon embarks on a journey of sobriety and healing.''

The defendants' renewed demand for arbitration is scheduled for hearing April 12 before Judge Mark V. Mooney.

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