A 72-year-old Dodger usher is suing the team and her supervisor, alleging her health was negatively affected by a backlash she suffered when she complained about alleged sexual harassment by her boss.
Vickie Gutierrez’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as defendants Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, Los Angeles Dodgers Holding Co. LLC and Shahram Ariane, identified in the complaint as the team’s executive in charge of security for Dodger Stadium and Dodger management.
As a result of the alleged hostile work environment, Gutierrez suffers from high blood pressure, hand tremors, migraines, panic attacks and a constant fear of losing the job she has held for more than three decades, according to her court papers.
The suit filed Monday lists seven causes of action: retaliation, sexual battery, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, hostile work environment, failure to take preventive and corrective action, and violation of the state Business and Professions Code. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages.
Team spokesman Joe Jareck released a statement saying the Dodgers “take all allegations of harassment, discrimination and retaliation very seriously and did so in this case. That is why, when Ms. Gutierrez’s allegations were first reported to the organization, the Dodgers immediately retained an independent counsel to conduct an investigation. After interviewing Ms. Gutierrez and numerous witnesses and considering the evidence that Ms. Gutierrez and others provided to her, the investigator concluded that Ms. Gutierrez’s claims were unfounded.”
According to her lawsuit, Gutierrez has worked for the Dodgers as an usher “or the equivalent” for the last 35 years, never missed a single day and has an exemplary record.
“(Gutierrrez) wants nothing more than to keep her job and for the Dodgers to do the right thing,” the suit states. “The Los Angeles Dodgers, her co-workers, the fans and Dodger Stadium are the most important things in (her) life.”
The suit says Gutierrez broke her ankle in 2016 and Ariane offered to go to her home and assist her. Gutierrez says she declined and when she returned to work, Ariane assigned her to the centerfield smoking section, even though she is a cancer survivor.
According to her court papers, Gutierrez considered the assignment a demotion in which Ariane intended to punish her and “soften” her for his alleged sexual demands. The plaintiff says she worked the centerfield assignment wearing a dust mask to avoid inhaling the cigarette smoke.
Ariane later assigned Gutierrez to an entrance gate near right field and told her to meet him in his office, where he repeatedly kissed her on the lips and fondled her, the suit alleges.
Ariane also applied sunscreen to Gutierrez as a pretext to sexually touch her, according to the complaint, which says she was “terrified” of Ariane because of his powerful position and felt unable to defend herself.
Gutierrez was at her “breaking point” in 2017 and confided in a colleague, who informed Dodger management, the suit says. However, as noted in the Dodger statement, an internal Dodger investigation exonerated Ariane, the suit states.
The plaintiff alleges that since the beginning of the 2018 season, Ariane’s subordinates have been “shadowing” Gutierrez at her assignments, and that he and the Dodgers are “diligently fabricating … reasons to terminate plaintiff’s employment in retaliation for (her) complaints about Ariane’s repeated sexual battering of (Gutierrez).”
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