A high-ranking manager with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has accused the organization of scuttling a deal they had reached which allowed the two parties to settle his sexual harassment claims against them without going to court.
56-year-old Scot Graham was the facilities leasing manager for the school district in August 2010 when he says he was subjected to an unwanted sexual advance from former LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines. Although Graham’s original complaint has never been made public, a letter sent by his attorneys to various LAUSD officials and outside attorneys following the collapse of their settlement deal states that he had been sexually harassed while employed by the district and threatened with retaliation if he came forward with his story.
However, in March of this year, Graham and his attorneys approached Los Angeles Unified with an offer to negotiate a settlement before any potential litigation was commenced. The two sides apparently reached an accord, but according to Graham, LAUSD prematurely announced the terms of the settlement, inaccurately characterized the incident that gave rise to Graham’s complaints, and caused serious harm to Graham’s reputation, preventing him from going back to work at LAUSD and damaging his prospects of future employment elsewhere.
Soon after LAUSD’s Board approved the settlement deal several weeks ago, officials from the district went public with its terms, telling the media that Graham would be paid $200,000 in cash and would be the beneficiary of lifetime health benefits in exchange for his resignation. However, they went on to say the disputed encounter between Superintendent Cortines and Graham was “consensual adult behavior,” which Graham denies.
Graham’s lawyers have accused Los Angeles Unified of orchestrating a public-relations campaign to rid themselves of a thorny, lingering issue without acknowledging Cortines’ “inappropriate sexual advances” toward Graham. Worse, Graham cannot even return to work (as he has been ordered to do by the LAUSD following his refusal to sign the settlement deal) since his name has been publicly tarnished. Graham earned $150,000 a year as the facilities leasing manager for the school district, but he has been so humiliated by the events of the last month that he feels he has been “constructively terminated” from his job.
While the school board will again take up this issue in their upcoming meeting, Graham is now insisting on bringing the current LAUSD Superintendent, John Deasy, into any future negotiations because of what he calls the “bad faith tactics” of Los Angeles Unified officials and lawyers. Graham’s attorneys have said they may seek additional damages as part of a settlement as a result of the ordeal their client has been put through over the last several weeks.
If you have experienced offensive, intimidating or abusive conduct or behavior at work, contact a sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles right away. Harassment in the workplace can have a profoundly harmful effect on the individual(s) victimized by a co-worker, and the overall morale of others who work there as well. A sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles can advise you of your options and recommend a course of action designed to achieve the best outcome based on the facts of your case. Talk to sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles if you have been wrongly or unfairly accused of sexual harassment. Although an allegation of harassment can have serious repercussions, a trial can be even more stressful and potentially costly, both financially and in terms of your reputation. Whichever side of a sexual harassment lawsuit you are on, having an experienced and dedicated sexual harassment lawyer on your side can help you effectively navigate the legal process toward a fair resolution.