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California school and its founder sued for sexual misconduct

A prominent California school catering to the needs of Santa Monica-area children with learning difficulties and one of its founders is being sued by a former female employee for sexual assault and wrongful termination. The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 3 in Los Angeles. The woman is also seeking unspecified compensation for emotional stress and anguish and gender harassment. The claims contained in the lawsuit stem from incidents that allegedly occurred in January 2015 at the home of the couple who founded the school.

The woman claims in her lawsuit that she began working at the school in 2012. She says that she soon became an integral member of the school's staff and formed close a personal relationship with the founding couple. This friendship led to the woman being invited to a party at the couple's residence. The lawsuit states that the woman had visited and stayed at the couple's house on a number of prior occasions, and she decided to stay the night after the party in question because she had been drinking.

The woman claims that the founder of the school entered the guest room where she was sleeping without permission and sexually assaulted her. She says that she reported the incident to law enforcement the following day, but police elected not to charge the man. The woman alleges that the incident left her unable to focus on her work, and she as a result left her position in February 2015.

Employment law attorneys likely have experience dealing with victims of harassment in the workplace. While state and federal laws provide workers with significant protections, many victims of workplace discrimination and harassment are nevertheless reluctant to come forward. Attorneys could seek to address these anxieties by explaining the sanctions that employers could face for taking retaliatory action against workers who file complaints.

Source: Manhattan Beach Patch, "Santa Monica School Founder Sued on Allegations of Sexual Assault", Liz Spear, Dec. 4, 2015

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