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Attorney: Suit is 'frivolous'

District representation files motion to dismiss sexual harassment complaint against Burbank Unified and its director of facilities.

October 03, 2007|By Rachel Kane

BURBANK — In response to a district administrative secretary’s sexual harassment lawsuit against the Burbank Unified School District and its director of facilities, the district’s attorney has filed a motion in Los Angeles County Superior Court to strike the complaint, calling it frivolous.

“The complaint as a whole . . .amounts to a ‘frivolous pleading’ . . . given that the allegations contained therein are totally and completely without merit,” according to the motion, which school district attorney Nancy P. Doumanian filed Friday.

In the lawsuit, administrative secretary Danielle Baez alleges that Senior Facilities Director Craig Jellison repeatedly sent the administrative secretary sexually explicit e-mails beginning in December 2005.

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Baez also alleges that Jellison sexually assaulted her in the district’s facilities building in late July 2006, locking her in his office and making unwanted advances. She has been on medical leave, citing emotional distress, since March.

Doumanian and Supt. Gregory Bowman had no comment on the case, and Jellison could not be reached for comment.

Baez is asking for an unspecified amount in restitution for damages due to discrimination and harassment, negligence, battery, false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

The document filed by Doumanian alleges that the lawsuit is frivolous based on the fact that Baez is still employed by the district and cannot claim wrongful termination or that she was forced to quit while she is still working for it.

Baez claimed she was constructively terminated — made to work in an environment so hostile so she was forced to take an extended leave.

The motion filed Friday states that Baez “has communicated an intention to return to work on Oct. 1,” but Baez did not return to her position on Monday and remains on medical leave, her lawyer Victor L. George said.

The motion also alleges that Baez did not comply with the Tort Claims Act, a set of requirements that must be met before filing suit against a California public entity.

It also alleges that she failed to follow administrative guidelines to remedy her complaints of sexual harassment and that her attorneys did not serve the district and Jellison with summons soon enough.

The motion does not deny the existence of sexually suggestive or improper e-mails exchanged between Jellison and Baez but states that “Defendants contend that any allegedly improper e-mail communications between plaintiff and Mr. Jellison were the product of voluntary personal discussions between consenting adults.”

On Nov. 28, both sides in the lawsuit will appear before Judge Joanne O’Donnell for a case management conference and demurrer — a clarification of cause for the lawsuit — at which time the judge may determine a trial date, George said.


 RACHEL KANE covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3205 or by e-mail at rachel.kane@latimes.com.

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