Sexual harassment allegations can often turn into “he said/she said” arguments, but what happens if the person being accused of the harassment is no longer alive? Such might be the case with a lawsuit recently filed by a former Beverly Hills boutique employee. The Beverly Hills Patch reported on February 18, 2012, that Brittany Anderson is suing the House of Bijan and alleges she was sexually harassed by the store’s late founder, Bijan Pakzad, who died in April 2011. Anderson worked for Bijan from April 2009 to May 2011 designing advertisements and retouching photos.
Patch reported that Anderson has named the shop and the estate of Pakzad as defendants. She alleges she was fired for complaining about the harassment and her suit also alleges retaliation and discrimination based on race. According to Patch, the complaint states that before Pakzad died, “he often flirted with Anderson, told her that he preferred her body over that of her co-workers, regularly said he wanted her sexually and tried to kiss her on the lips.” Anderson reportedly hoped the harassment would end after she told Pakzad that she was moving in with her boyfriend, but Pakzad allegedly retaliated by demoting her and taking away some of her job duties, according to Patch.
These types of harassment charges are complicated by the death of the alleged harasser, but that does not mean the accuser does not have a case. Whether you were a victim of a “hostile working” environment or quid pro quo sexual harassment, it is critical that you document the offensive behaviors and any attempts you made to report the transgressions. If, as Anderson’s lawyer told TMZ, the Bijan founder had been sued for similar claims before he died, then that might help Anderson overcome any skepticism about the timing of her complaint.
Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment attorneys