Embattled San Diego mayor Bob Filner — who is being sued for sexual harassment by former staffer Irene McCormack Jackson and has been accused of inappropriate behavior by (at last count) seven other women — is having a pretty rough week.
Filner filed a formal request on Monday to request that San Diego taxpayers pick up the tab for his legal troubles. That request was promptly met with another lawsuit on Tuesday, this time by the city itself, which seeks indemnity against any damages it may incur as a result of the first lawsuit. He’s also facing two separate recall efforts.
But Mayor Filner — who is already headed to a two-week rehab stint “to begin the process of addressing [his] behavior” — couldn’t just let it go at that. No sirree. Now he’s blaming the city of San Diego for not providing him, an adult male with decades of work experience, with the proper guidance in how not to sexually harass his female colleagues.
The mayor’s attorney, Harvey Berger, sent a letter to the city attorney claiming that the city is responsible for Filner’s behavior. According to Berger, Filner was required to take sexual harassment training within six months of Dec. 3, when he took office.
“The city failed to provide such training to Mayor Filner,” read the letter. “In fact, it is my understanding that such training was scheduled, but that the trainer for the city unilaterally canceled, and never rescheduled such training for the mayor (and others). Therefore, if there is any liability at all, the city will almost certainly be liable for ‘failing to prevent harassment.’”
“Had the city provided mandatory sexual harassment training to Mayor Filner,” insists Berger, “[former spokeswoman Irene] McCormack Jackson may never have brought her lawsuit.”
Oh, but what have we here? According to former city COO Jay Goldstone, the mayor’s office canceled not one, but several training sessions, due to time constraints. Not only that, but the sexual harassment part of the training is done online — there is no “trainer” who could have canceled on Filner — and could have been completed at any time.
“Why didn’t he do it?” city attorney Jan Goldsmith asked. “It’s irrelevant to the lawsuit. Nice try, Harvey, but it really is irrelevant. If he committed sexual harassment with a city employee, we’re going to be liable for his acts. That’s why we sued him in a cross-complaint. Because he chose not to take his training doesn’t mean somehow the city gets to pay his attorneys fees. It’s ridiculous.”
Adding to the comedic irony of Filner’s feigned ignorance of how to share an office with women and not demand that they get naked, San Diego city councilmember Scott Sherman, one of the nine city councilmembers who denied the request for a taxpayer-funded legal defense, remarked that “Bob Filner started in Congress 30 years ago and one of his first votes was regarding establishing sexual harassment laws.”
Still, he finally completed the online training on July 15th, and now presumably understands that it’s not cool to ask your employees to work without panties.
As McCormack Jackson’s attorney, Gloria Allred (as if we even had to tell you that) put it, “Do you need help in order to know it’s inappropriate to place women in headlocks while making vile, disgusting sexual comments?”
No. But sometimes you do need to be forced to stop doing it.