Labor & Employment

Refusal to pay San Diego mayor's sex-harass case legal bills 'not a rational decision,' lawyer says

A unanimous decision by the San Diego City Council not to pay for the defense of the city’s mayor in a sexual harassment case is “a political, not a rational decision,” his lawyer contends.

Refusing to cover Mayor Bob Filner’s defense costs could hurt the city, which is a co-defendant in the case and may be held strictly liable for any misconduct that is actually proven to have occurred, said attorney Harvey Berger in a letter apparently written before the governing body’s Tuesday night vote. In addition to refusing to pay for Filner’s defense, the council also voted to sue him to recover any damages it is required to pay in the lawsuit, the Los Angeles Times’ L.A. Now blog reports.

The city could be held strictly liable whether or not it knew about claimed misconduct by Filner because San Diego did not comply with its legal obligation to provide Filner with sexual harassment training, Berger wrote.

He also said such training is important, because many people, including his client, don’t necessarily know what kind of behavior is prohibited in the workplace. “”Having conducted sexual harassment training scores of times over the years, I have learned that many—if not most—people do not know what is and what is not illegal sexual harassment under California law,” Berger stated.

See also: “San Diego sues its mayor for costs of legal defense against sexual-harassment suit”

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