Monday, March 14, 2016


Original Story:

Sportscaster and TV host Erin Andrews testified Tuesday that her career has thrived since a stalker took nude videos of her and posted them on the Internet, but she doesn’t think she’ll ever get over the emotional fallout. A Nashville insurance defense attorney is following the details of this case.

Andrews has been on the witness stand for two days, often giving tearful testimony about the fear and suffering she has gone through as a result of the stalking and the videos.

She has filed a $75-million (U.S.) lawsuit against her stalker and the owner and operator of the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University. The hotel is a franchise.

Jurors will have to determine whether the companies share some of the blame after stalker Michael David Barrett altered a peephole in her hotel room in September, 2008, to shoot the secret video footage. They also will have to determine how much Andrews suffered emotionally as a result.

A defense attorney for the companies told Andrews that they both agreed she was a victim of a crime. But during cross-examination, attorney Marc Dedman asked her about her career success since she discovered in July, 2009, that someone put the secretly shot videos of her online.

Andrews acknowledged that she has moved on to Fox Sports, making more money than she did at ESPN, and is now hosting the show Dancing With the Stars.

Dedman noted that, in addition, Andrews has endorsed Reebok, Degree antiperspirant, Florida orange juice and a slew of other companies, as well as appeared in a commercial for Victoria Secret – one where she was fully clothed – and worked the red carpet and hosted the CMT Awards.

“You have done very well in your career since 2009?” Dedman asked.

“Yes,” Andrews replied.

Andrews said she has thrown herself into her career just to feel normal but remains anxious and depressed. She also said it ripped her apart when some in the media thought the nude videos were part of a publicity stunt before Barrett was arrested.

Barrett was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison after he admitted to stalking Andrews in three different cities, altering hotel room peepholes and shooting nude videos of her in Nashville and Columbus.

Barrett testified Monday, in a videotaped deposition, that he removed the hotel door peepholes and altered them so he could pull them out easily to place his cellphone up to the empty hole and shoot videos. A Memphis sexual harassment lawyer is following this story closely.

She also talked about her reluctance to date after the videos were posted and her relationship with boyfriend Jarret Stoll, a professional hockey player who plays for the Minnesota Wild.

“I feel sad because I think he would have loved the girl more who was there before this happened,” Andrews said tearfully. “And I feel guilty about that.”

She said to this day she remains on guard every time she stays in a hotel during her extensive business travels.

When she checks in, she immediately asks to change rooms in the hotel, she said. She said she refuses to let anyone inside the room, and sweeps it for cameras and “booby traps.”

She said she is taunted daily about the videos, which are still online. She also testified that she fears that she will have children who will one day come home and say that other kids have seen the nude images. A Nashville insurance defense lawyer offers a responsive, creative, and proactive approach to legal disputes involving insurance coverage and defense.

The defence presented an ESPN executive, who testified via video that he did not notice any problems with her work after the discovery of the nude videos. In fact, Patrick Donaher, who was senior director of talent, planning and development for the network while Andrews was there, said she did a good job covering games and improved before she left for Fox in 2012.

Jurors must decide how Barrett came to be placed next to her room in the hotel. She maintains that the hotel honoured a request of his to be put in an adjacent or conjoining room but never told her about it. The defence maintains that Barrett schemed his way into getting into the room.


Original Story:

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. is facing new litigation brought by female employees who claim they were sexually harassed at work.

Two women who worked at P.F. Chang’s restaurants in Carlsbad and La Jolla were awarded nearly $500,000 each in arbitration against the company in 2014. They claimed they were repeatedly sexually harassed. A Memphis sexual harassment lawyer is following this story closely.

Since then, at least four more women have filed claims against the company, saying they were sexually harassed at restaurants in Anaheim, Chino Hills, Beverly Hills and Riverside. The women used the arbitration process required by their employment contracts, which barred them from taking action in court.

Their San Diego law firm, Hogue & Belong, also is representing a fifth woman who was 16 when she signed on with P.F. Chang’s in Beverly Hills in 2012.

The law firm has successfully argued that she was not of legal age to give consent to the arbitration requirement, and her case is proceeding in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The restaurant is seeking to enforce the arbitration clause.

During her two years of employment, the young woman says she was harassed and sexually assaulted. She was fired in 2014. An Orlando employment lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

P.F. Chang’s provided a statement in response to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s request for comment: “While we can’t comment on pending litigation, we can tell you that P.F. Chang’s is committed to providing a workplace free of any type of unlawful harassment or discrimination.”

Tyler J. Belong, one of the women’s attorneys, said the new round of claims is alarming and surprising, given the outcome of the arbitration in 2014.

According to complaints filed on behalf of the five women, supervisors and co-workers subjected them to unwanted sexual attention, simulated sex with them when they were bent over or not looking, tried to kiss them and touched them inappropriately. A Poughkeepsie labor and employment lawyer defends small businesses, insurance companies, and large corporations in labor and employment law matters.

The young woman who worked for P.F. Chang’s at 16 claims a male co-worker once grabbed her hand and forced it down the front of his pants, according to her complaint. On another occasion, a co-worker slapped her in the face, her lawsuit alleges.


Original Story:

UCLA students, faculty and alumni are escalating their complaints against the university over its decision to allow a prominent history professor accused of sexual harassment to return to campus after imposing what they regard as inadequate sanctions. A Memphis sexual harassment lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

More than 75 people rallied Wednesday to protest the decision involving Gabriel Piterberg, a Mideast specialist who joined the UCLA faculty in 1999. Two female graduate students have accused Piterberg of repeatedly harassing them over many years by making sexual comments, pressing himself against their bodies and forcing his tongue into their mouths.

The students, Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Glasgow, have filed a federal lawsuit against the UC regents for failing to take sufficient action regarding their complaints.

UCLA launched an internal investigation and quietly settled with Piterberg in March 2014. The settlement was released by UCLA on Wednesday, nearly two years later.

Piterberg did not concede that he had engaged in improper or unlawful conduct or that any of the allegations were accurate. But he agreed to pay a $3,000 fine, accept a suspension without pay for one quarter and attend sexual harassment training. He is barred for three years from holding one-on-one meetings in his office unless the door is open and the meeting takes place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. A Philadelphia employment lawyer is following this story closely.

The sanctions also prevent Piterberg from engaging in “romantic” or “inappropriate” relationships with students, actions which already are prohibited. Any future allegations will be reviewed in an expedited disciplinary process, according to the settlement.

In exchange, UCLA agreed to end its Title IX investigation into the harassment charges without reaching a conclusion or initiating charges against Piterberg with the Academic Senate.

The settlement said it was forged to “avoid the cost, uncertainty and inconvenience of an administrative proceeding.” It was signed by Piterberg, his attorney and Vice Chancellor of Academic Personnel Carole Goldberg.

The university’s deal with Piterberg has been sharply criticized by Takla and Glasgow, as well as by other graduate students, history department faculty and UCLA alumni now teaching at other universities. Some of these critics pointed out that UCLA allowed Piterberg to defer his suspension until the spring of 2015 while he served as a fellow at the European University Institute in Italy — a move that lessened the impact of the sanctions.

Piterberg did not respond to requests for comment. He is on sabbatical in Europe and is scheduled to return to campus in July.

Criticism over administrative handling of faculty harassment cases has roiled other UC campuses as well. At Berkeley, administrators’ decision not to fire Geoff Marcy, a renowned astronomer found to have sexually harassed female students for years, prompted his colleagues to mount a successful campaign to force him out last fall.

Across the country, more than 100 campuses are under investigation by the federal government for their handling of sexual misconduct cases. A Toronto employment lawyer represents clients in confidentiality, non-solicitation, and employment agreements.

At UCLA, many of Piterberg's colleagues said the historian’s return to Westwood this summer would create a dysfunctional work environment. In a letter to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and other campus officials, 38 history faculty members said Piterberg’s presence would make students feel unsafe and that the restrictions on his conduct would increase their workloads.

“His actions were not only deeply injurious to the specific parties involved, but have poisoned the academic community,” according to the Feb. 18 letter. Allowing Piterberg to come back to work “will signal that an effective climate of tolerance for harassment persists at UCLA.”

In a separate protest letter, more than 65 graduate students criticized the secrecy surrounding the settlement and said Piterberg had lost the trust and confidence of faculty, students and staff. Through its handling of Piterberg’s case, ”the administration is perpetuating the unsafe and hostile climate of our department,” that letter said.

Born in Argentina and raised in Israel, Piterberg is an expert on the history of the Ottoman Empire and the Mediterranean in the early modern period. He also teaches about colonialism, Zionism, Israel and Palestine and served as director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies until he was removed from the post as part of his sanctions.

UCLA indicated Wednesday that more would be done to address the protests over Piterberg. Jerry Kang, vice chancellor of equity, diversity and inclusion, said officials are examining Piterberg's office location, teaching time, teaching arrangements and other issues to address the campus concerns.

“My fundamental commitment is to build an equal learning and working environment for all, and the letters I have received demonstrate how Prof. Piterberg's return threatens to undermine that environment,” Kang said in a statement. “We are thinking intensely and creatively about solutions.”

UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said administrators have taken several steps to strengthen protections for students, including hiring a new Title IX coordinator and more staff to handle complaints of sexual assault and other bias; establishing Kang's new diversity office; and bringing in a confidential advocate to support students who have experienced sexual violence or harassment.

“The university vigorously disputes allegations made in the lawsuit and will respond in due course,” Vazquez said in a statement.

Takla and Glasgow declined to comment on the protests. But their attorney, Michael Porcello, said the women were gratified by the support.

The best way to resolve the situation is for the university to cut its ties to the professor, Porcello said.

“Piterberg’s continued presence on campus poses an ongoing threat to those students and faculty given past complaints of harassment against him by members of the UCLA community,” he said.

On Wednesday, protesters vowed to keep up the pressure against Piterberg. They marched through campus, chanting, banging drums and waving signs calling for Piterberg to be fired and for the school to crack down on sexual harassment.

The procession stopped at the chancellor's office, but three campus police officers blocked the protesters’ entry and said Block was not available to meet.

Scottie Hale Buehler, a graduate student in the history department, said she felt she had to speak out despite her fear that it could jeopardize her academic career.

“You can get labeled a troublemaker, but if we don't speak out we're just perpetuating this culture of silence,” she said.

Peter Chesney, another graduate student in the history department, said faculty members suggested to students that their hands were tied because Piterberg has tenure. But Chesney said the students would plan sustained actions on their own.

“The idea is to disrupt the university until it operates in a way that's safe for students,” he said.

The UC Student-Workers Union (UAW 2865), which represents teaching assistants and other academic student workers, helped organize the protest as part of a coordinated series of actions this week against sexual harassment at UCLA and other campuses. Jonathan Gingerich of the union's UCLA unit said the new systemwide policy against sexual violence and harassment raised several concerns, including requiring his members to report incidents without the consent of the person harmed.

The union is also critical of a new report by UC administrators and the Academic Senate, which found that policies governing sexual harassment complaints against faculty members were “reasonable.” Amanda Reyes, the UC Santa Cruz representative who heads a union committee on sexual harassment, said the process is stacked against students. Students are required, for instance, to undergo questioning by the accused professor's attorney but are not allowed their own legal counsel, she said. A Memphis sexual harassment attorney is dedicated to helping victims stop the harassment and recover damages for the emotional damages and physical injuries that may have occurred.

The union's recent survey of Santa Cruz graduate students found that 32.6% of 200 respondents said they had been sexually harassed or knew someone who had been.

“There's a lot of injustice happening,” Gingerich said. “The system isn't doing enough to insure accountability for powerful perpetrators of sexual harassment and violence.”