A former executive assistant to the general manager of Los Angeles Coliseum is suing USC and one of its executives, alleging she was subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace and forced to do the jobs of other people without appropriate compensation.
Rachel Lamb’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Thursday against the university and Dan Stimmler, USC’s vice president of auxiliary services and supervisor of the plaintiff’s immediate boss, Joe Furin.
“The work atmosphere Furin created was one of a crude, male-dominated culture more likened to a frat house than a professional work environment,” according to Lamb’s suit, which alleges sexual harassment, sexual battery, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
USC issued a response Monday, saying, “The university is committed to maintaining a harassment-free environment. We have just been made aware of the lawsuit and are looking into it.”
Lamb was hired in September 2016 and quit in April because she could not tolerate the work conditions any longer, the suit states.
In October 2016, Lamb attended a USC football game in her first work assignment, according to the suit. The suit describes the atmosphere at the Coliseum hospitality suite as “extremely unprofessional,” noting that her co-workers dressed casually, including one woman who wore a short skirt and tank top.
“Everyone at the event was drinking alcohol and sitting and talking amongst themselves,” the suit alleges.
The suit states that Lamb met Stimmler during that first work assignment. He was flirtatious with her and the conduct continued over time, the suit states.
Within the first week on the job, Lamb learned that two executives in her workplace were “incompetent and unable to perform their basic job responsibilities,” the suit states.
As days passed, Lamb found herself taking on more and more of the job duties of the two executives, the suit states.
She grew “frustrated and physically exhausted by the demands of having to do the work of three people while her job title and salary remained the same,” the suit states.
One of the executives on occasion would invite her into his office ostensibly to help fix his computer, but he would then offer her alcohol from his collection and seek to sit and talk with her, the suit states.
Lamb eventually began having nausea, anxiety and heart palpitations and pain because of the work environment, the suit states.
Furin and human resources management eventually changed Lamb’s job title and made her a salaried employee, which amounted to a demotion because she could no longer get overtime, the suit states. She believes the change was made “in retaliation for her not going along with the fraternity-like culture of the workplace,” the suit states.
After the two allegedly unqualified executives left their jobs, Lamb was not given a fair chance at promotions to either position, the suit alleges.
By the start of the third football season in which Lamb was on the job, Stimmler’s sexual behavior became more aggressive, the suit states. He would catch her unaware at work and kiss her on the lips, the suit alleges.
Lamb objected, but Stimmler was “often so drunk that he would disregard Lamb’s protests,” the suit states.
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