One Bob Filner sex harassment lawsuit wraps up with mixed results

Posted in Sexual Harassment on April 2, 2016

A few years ago, Bob Filner was at the center of one of the biggest stories in California politics. Filner resigned as mayor of San Diego in August 2013 after being accused of sexual harassment by at least 12 women. He was eventually convicted of criminal charges and several of his victims received settlements in lawsuits against Filner and the city.

Recently, a jury ruled on a case involving one of Filner’s victims who did not receive a settlement from the city. And while jurors agreed that she had been sexually harassed by then-mayor Filner, she was awarded no damages in the lawsuit because the harassment “didn’t rise to the level of pervasive and severe.”

According to the plaintiff, she introduced herself to Filner at a public event in the spring of 2013. During the conversation, he allegedly asked her out to lunch and made clear that it would be a date.

A short time after that conversation, she was sharing the details of the story with some coworkers who were also at the event. While she was speaking, the mayor allegedly came up behind her and put her in what has become known as the “Filner headlock.” Although intended to be a playful gesture (and not a wrestling move), he nonetheless brushed against one of her breasts – presumably on purpose.

Defense attorneys argued that the plaintiff had not been severely traumatized by the incident. They pointed to evidence such as Facebook photos she had posted in the months following the incident; photos in which she was “smiling with friends and family.”

Most anyone who uses Facebook understands that the images people post are often carefully chosen to portray a certain public persona and do not necessarily reflect what a person is feeling or thinking during any period of their life. It is unfortunate that such evidence apparently proved convincing to the jury.

There are still civil lawsuits pending against the city and ex-mayor Filner. Hopefully, victims in these upcoming cases will be fairly compensated for the sexual harassment they were subjected to.