Filner’s Attorney: City Failed To Provide Mayor With Sexual Harassment Training
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Aired 7/31/13 on KPBS News.
In a letter first obtained by Voice of San Diego, Mayor Bob Filner's attorney asserts that the city failed to provide the mayor with sexual harassment training. But council staff say the training is available online.
In a letter first obtained by Voice of San Diego, Mayor Bob Filner's attorney asserts that the city failed to provide the mayor with sexual harassment training and says the "City will almost certainly be liable for 'failing to prevent harassment'..."
But City Council staff members tell KPBS that the training is available online and it's up to all elected officials to complete the training on their own and to make sure their staff does the same.
In the letter, Harvey Berger, Filner's private attorney, says the city failed to provide the mayor with sexual harassment training and would therefore be held liable for any legal fees Filner incurred as a result of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him and the city of San Diego. The City Council on Tuesday night voted unanimously to reject Filner's request that the city pay his legal fees.
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"Had the city provided mandatory sexual harassment to Mayor Filner, Ms. McCormack Jackson may never have brought her lawsuit," he said, referring to the lawsuit filed July 22 by Filner's former director of communications, Irene McCormack Jackson.
Berger today declined a request by a KPBS producer to be interviewed about his letter.
By law, the city is to provide the mayor with sexual harassment training within six months of taking office, Berger stated in the letter.
"The City failed to provide such training to Mayor Filner," Berger wrote. "In fact, it is my understanding that such training was scheduled, but that the trainer for the City unilaterally cancelled, and never re-scheduled such training for the Mayor (and others.)"
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Berger also said while "many may argue...an adult male should not need sexual harassment training," Filner did not receive sexual harassment training during his decades in office as a congressman.
But Diana Palacios, deputy chief of staff for City Councilman Scott Sherman, said the mandatory sexual harassment training was readily provided by the city online. It was the responsibility of newly elected officials to take the online training, she said. Sherman took office in early December, on the same day that Filner was sworn in.
Sherman completed the training and received his certificate in March.