Four former female UCLA employees, namely, Krystal Eda, Marya Miguel, Amber Rose Palega, and Jackie Rodriguez have filed a lawsuit against the University of California and Board of Regents for failing to handle abuse complaints appropriately. The case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, and the plaintiffs claim that their supervisor, Martha Mansoor harassed them sexually by slapping their buttocks, caressing their thighs, and making uncouth sexual remarks about their bodies. The plaintiffs feel that their allegations were ignored as they were ‘female-to-female.’
These claims fall under the FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act) rights that are meant to protect employees against workplace harassment and discrimination. The plaintiffs allege that the harassment began in 2016 and that the defendant retained her post even after one of the women informed another supervisor of the harassment. Instead, the supervisors retaliated by adding on to the plaintiffs’ workload, thus ensuring that they had no time to seek legal help, claims Darren Richie, the plaintiffs’ lawyer. Retaliation is also covered under FEHA.
The plaintiffs also claim that the complaint process at UCLA is long, confusing and ineffective. They cite a perfect example of the defendant continuing to work with and supervising the plaintiffs even after being alerted to the complaints against her. In spite of the harassment complaints having been submitted earlier in the year, the lawsuit indicates that the school terminated Mansoor in July of 2017. Moreover, UCLA’s internal complaint system showed that only one of the four women was the complainant while the rest were witnesses.
While UCLA did not respond immediately, they later issued a statement claiming that “these allegations are inconsistent with the standards of conduct expected of UCLA staff, faculty and students and we take them very seriously.” UCLA said they were reviewing the lawsuit’s details and would respond appropriately. The statement further encouraged the UCLA community to come forth with any concerns they could be having about the workplace environment.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for sexual harassment, failure of the institution to prevent such harassment, retaliation and discrimination, and deliberate and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Richie says that the four plaintiffs are pursuing more than 120 million dollars in compensation.