A former bookkeeper for a Sherman Oaks tax preparation service is suing her ex-employer, alleging she was forced to quit rather than endure sexual harassment by her supervisor who withheld part of her pay when she refused his advances.
Estela Aldana’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit allegations against Stabler & Associates Inc. include wrongful constructive discharge, retaliation, sex/gender discrimination, negligent retention and supervision and various state Labor Code violations. Also named as defendants are company owner and CFO Don Stabler and account manager Elias Torres, who was Aldana’s boss.
Aldana seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Thursday. She was hired in August 2016 at the Ventura Boulevard company by Stabler as a bookkeeper and Torres, an account manager, was her boss, the suit states.
Throughout her employment, Aldana was “repeatedly and consistently sexually harassed” by Torres, who made offensive comments about her, told her about his sexual fantasies and constantly make advances, the suit states.
“Though (Aldana) asked Torres to stop, he continued this harassment until her last day of employment,” the suit alleges.
Torres often withheld Aldana’s weekly pay checks in retaliation for her refusal of his sexual and romantic advances, the suit alleges. Other times he withheld her checks until she agreed to go lunch with him and to pay for his meal, the suit states.
When Aldana once refused Torres’ request to personally deliver her check to her home, he did so anyway, according to the suit.
By September 2019, Torres made “increasingly grotesque sexual comments” to Aldana as well as inappropriate hand gestures, the suit states.
A human resources representative who witnessed an example of the boorish behavior smirked and said, “Oh, that’s just not right,” but did nothing more, the suit states.
Torres refused to pay Aldana all the money she earned for September 2019 and believes it was in retaliation for her refusing to submit to his sexual advances, the suit states. Aldana resigned Oct. 1, 2019, because she of Torres’ alleged sexual harassment and management’s failure to do anything about it, the suit states.
Aldana also alleges the company designated her as an independent contractor in order to evade tax liabilities and avoid their responsibilities to her under the Labor Code.
“To date, Stabler … continues to gainfully employ Torres as a manager,” the suit states.