San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s lawyer argues the city should pay his legal fees in the sexual harassment lawsuit because Filner never received sexual harassment training required under the law.
California law requires all new managers to receive sexual harassment training within six months of being hired.
“The city failed to provide such training to Mayor Filner,” Filner’s lawyer Harvey Berger wrote in a July 29 letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. “In fact, it is my understanding that such training was scheduled, but the trainer for the city unilaterally cancelled, and never re-scheduled 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’ under Government Code Section 12940(k).”
Berger admits that the mayor never received any sexual harassment training while serving in Congress or in previous San Diego elected office.
“While, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, many might argue that ‘you don’t need a weatherperson to tell you which way the wind blows,’ and an adult male should not need sexual harassment training, I would point out that in his decades of public service for the people of San Diego as a U.S. Representative, Mayor Filner has never received sexual harassment training,” Berger writes. “This is not an excuse for any inappropriate behavior which may have occurred, but having conducted sexual harassment training many times over the years, I have learned that many – if not most- people do not know what is and what is not illegal sexual harassment under California law. There is a very, very good reason for mandatory sexual harassment training; if nothing else it makes people think about the subject, and how they interact with their fellow employees. Had the City provided mandatory sexual harassment training to Mayor Filner, [former spokeswoman] Irene McCormack Jackson may never have brought her lawsuit.”
Filner did complete sexual harassment training once the scandal broke, per U-T San Diego.