Paralegal Doing Unpaid Double Duty Wins Substantial Payment from California Assembly

Law Firm Newswire



Sacramento, CA (Law Firm Newswire) October 15, 2015 – This case involved a mixture of allegations, from sexual harassment to work without pay. Being in a position of authority over another is not implied permission to abuse or harass them.

This case saw the California Assembly agree to pay $110,000 to a former legislative employee who filed a lawsuit against Assemblyman Steve Fox (D-Palmdale), alleging unpaid wages and sexual harassment. The terms of the settlement include a clause that the Assembly does not admit to any of the worker’s allegations.

“According to the statement of claim, Kristina Zahn was virtually forced to work without pay while Fox worked to amalgamate his duties as Assemblyman and an attorney in private practice,” said well-known Sacramento sexual harassment attorney, Deborah Barron, not involved in the case.

It was alleged that Fox had a penchant for making late night phone calls to her and discussing his desire for sexual liaisons with Sacramento women, made inappropriate sexual comments and continually asked about Zahn’s sex life. Zahn stated she was wrongfully dismissed in 2013.

Zahn also said Fox forced her to volunteer for his 2012 election campaign as his paralegal and that her unpaid work continued until he hired her for his district office. Despite being hired to work in a different capacity in the district office, it was expected that she would still perform gratis paralegal work. Even though Zahn reported Fox’s behavior to her supervisors, her complaints seemingly fell on deaf ears.

“Fox’s law office paid Zahn $15,000 in addition to the initial settlement paid by the state. Whether it was an ex gratia payment or not, it carried the implication that he had indeed not paid her fair wages for the period of time alleged,” Barron said.

This is not the first lawsuit of this kind to be filed naming Fox as the defendant. Fox’s former legislative director, Nancy Finnigan, alleged he had her carry out menial tasks for his law office and once greeted her at the door of his apartment not wearing pants.

Even though sexual harassment still occurs in many workplaces, including those that should know better, it is illegal and employees do not need to work under such hostile conditions. “If you are in a situation like this, you can talk to me,” said Barron.

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