Four employees of a late real estate businessman whose 2020 death was recognized in a video tribute by Mayor Eric Garcetti are suing the decedent’s estate, with some alleging they toiled in a sexually charged atmosphere in which their employer brought prostitutes to the workplace.
Gregory Hartman, Mousa Kouy-Ghadosh, Sara Jadid Pilevarian and Mehrangiz Rodef Shalom brought the complaint Wednesday against the estate of Yoav Botach and several of his companies, seeking unspecified damages. The lawsuit allegations include wrongful termination, sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and failure to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
Shalom’s claims focus mainly on alleged state Labor Code violations, including refusal to pay wages for all hours worked and compensation for missed meal breaks.
An attorney for the Botach estate did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Botach died in May 2020 at age 87.
“Yoav Botach was an angel in the city of angels,” Garcetti said in a video tribute to Botach after the businessman’s death. “One of the most inspiring souls I have ever met and my heart aches that he is now gone.”
But according to the lawsuit, Botach was not kind to the four plaintiffs.
“This case arises out of defendants’ sexually hostile work environment, their unlawful termination of plaintiffs and their wanton disregard for California labor laws,” the suit states.
All of the plaintiffs were hired as bookkeepers except for Pilevarian, who worked as a housekeeper, the suit states. The four were hired during the years of 2016-17.
Hartman was told to notify Botach if any female tenants of his properties came to his residence to pay their rent so he could subject them sexual propositions and inappropriate conversations, the suit states. When women tenants avoided Botach, he became angry with Hartman for not being the businessman’s go-between for his attempted sexual exploits, according to the suit.
Hartman and Kouy-Ghadosh were required to coordinate meetings between Botach and prostitutes, who in turn solicited Hartman for sex, the suit states. Botach often fondled the prostitutes in front of employees, including Kouy-Ghadosh, who saw Botach pay about $200 to get his nails done “with benefits.” according to the suit.
Pilevarian was once asked to escort an unknown woman to Botach’s bedroom, where she overheard him telling her how much he would pay her for her “services,” the suit states.
Hartman and Kouy-Ghadosh complained about Botach’s alleged inappropriate sexual behavior, but Botach was unswayed and told Kouy-Ghadosh he should “mind his own business,” according to the suit.
Botach threw objects at employees when he was mad, once leaving Pilevarian bruised after she was struck by a cell phone, the suit alleges.
When Pilevarian once developed an allergic rash with a swollen face and impaired breathing, Botach told the other plaintiffs not to help her and appeared not to care if she lived or died, the suit states.
“This was part and parcel of Botach’s apparent disregard for women and openly misogynistic attitude,” the suit states.
In December 20, 2017, Botach’s grandson, Mendy Botach, falsely accused Hartman of colluding with another of the businessman’s family members to take money from him, according to the suit. As Mendy Botach approached Hartman and caused him to fear for his safety, Hartman took out his phone to call the police, the suit states.
Mendy Botach put his hands on Hartman and demanded that he turn his phone off and the elder Botach told the plaintiff to leave, the suit states.