OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Plaintiff's Elinor Banks, Candace Gonzales, Edith Villapudua and Guadalupe Zapien-Aguilera filed a complaint today at the San Joaquin Superior Court after the County of San Joaquin rejected their formal Claims for Damages and Injury against San Joaquin County regarding Plaintiff's suffering sexual discrimination, harassment and retaliation at the hands of their supervisor, Christopher Bruno, and his male cohorts for nearly two years.
"Unfortunately, the lawyers within the San Joaquin County Public Defender's Office blatantly tolerated the sexist and discriminatory behaviors directed against all four of these women for years. Despite their numerous internal complaints, the Public Defender's office's failed to act to protect all four women, and this inaction served to condone the mistreatment directed at these women. We are ready to move forward with this case. It is time for Justice!" said Gary Gwilliam, Esq. of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, who represent the Plaintiffs.
Elinor Banks, Candace Gonzales, Edith Villapudua and Guadalupe Zapien-Aguilera were the only four female Public Defender investigators and they left their jobs on May 15, 2017 after informing the Public Defender that they were being constructively terminated and in protest of an ongoing pattern of focused discrimination and harassment on the job.
"The fact that Christopher Bruno attempted to implement a dress code requiring our clients to look 'attractive' to him is completely absurd," said J. Gary Gwilliam, Esq. of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, who represent the Plaintiffs.
Each of the claimants were employed as Investigators in the San Joaquin Public Defenders office, assisting attorneys in investigating cases assigned to the Public Defender. They worked successfully in their jobs for many years. In June of 2015, Christopher Bruno was assigned to be their supervisor. Mr. Bruno immediately began to discriminate against the female investigators he supervised. Examples of the discrimination and harassment include:
- Giving preference to males in hiring decisions;
- Giving male investigators preferential assignments;
- Allowing male investigators to leave work early and set their own schedules (but not female investigators);
- Making numerous sexist and derogatory comments towards his female subordinates;
- Devising a plan to implement a dress code for female employees, so that they would be considered more "attractive" to him;
- Requiring investigators be assigned male partners for their "safety;"
- Refusing to promote female investigators to team lead positions, considering them too "emotional" for the role.
After they filed internal complaints, Banks, Gonzales, Villapudua and Zapien-Aguilera began to be retaliated against by Mr. Bruno, who continued the discriminatory conduct, in addition to making threatening and disparaging comments. Ms. Lyell and Ms. Delph were made aware of this retaliation, and again did nothing to protect their employees.
"The County needs to be held accountable for what has taken place under their noses. The Public Defender's Office needs to be a place that serves the County free from any form of discrimination," said Randall Strauss, Esq. of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer.
J. Gary Gwilliam, Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer (510) 832-5411
Randall E. Strauss, Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer (510) 832-5411
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SOURCE The Law Firm of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer