Embattled San Diego mayor Bob Filner has an unusual justification for why he’s asking that the city pay the legal fees in his sexual-harassment lawsuit: The city is actually liable for his behavior because it never provided him with the sexual-harassment training that was required by city policy.
Harvey Berger, Filner’s attorney, wrote in a letter to the city’s attorney that the city had scheduled such training, but that the harassment trainer “unilaterally cancelled, and never re-scheduled such training for the Mayor (and others.)”
“Therefore,” Berger says, “if there is any liability at all, the City will almost certainly be liable for ‘failing to prevent harassment’.”
Berger then paraphrases a Bob Dylan lyric, admitting “many might argue that ‘you don’t a weatherperson to tell you which way the wind blows,’ and an adult male should not need sexual harassment training.” But Berger say he has “conducted sexual harassment training scores of times over the years” and found that “many – if not most – people do not know what is and what is not illegal sexual harassment under California law.”
An eight accuser came forward on Tuesday, alleging that Filner kissed her and asked about and touched her wedding band during a one-on-one business meeting he insisted on.
In 2011, then-congressman Filner asked the woman, a local-university official, to have a business meeting with her alone, at which he “grabbed her left hand, twirled her wedding band and asked if it was real.” She explained, “He then asked me if it could come off while I was in D.C. and if I would go out with him. I said I really didn’t think so. And at that point, he pulled my hand closer to him and he reached over to kiss me. I turned my head at that moment and on the side of my face, I got a very wet, saliva-filled kiss including feeling his tongue on my cheek.”
“Had the City provided mandatory sexual harassment training to Mayor Filner,” Berger argues, there might never have been a lawsuit.