One Year Ago Today (August 30, 2021)…A 33-year-old former employee of the Claremont Colleges, who sued the school alleging she was fired in 2019 for complaining of sexual harassment by a fellow worker, reached a settlement with the institution.
Eduardo Olivo, an attorney for plaintiff Brittany Hiroto, filed court papers on Wednesday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory W. Alarcon stating that the case was resolved and asking that it be dismissed. No terms were divulged.
In their court papers, lawyers for the Claremont Colleges denied any wrongdoing on the part of their client.
“At its heart, this is a simple case about an employee who was terminated after lying to her supervisor about her whereabouts during the work day,” the defense lawyers stated in their court papers.
On the day in question, Hiroto falsely told her supervisor, Monty Veerachaylukana, that she was at a scheduled training when she was actually sitting at her desk in front of her computer across campus, according to the Claremont College attorneys’ court papers.
“Given this casual deception and in light of her ongoing performance deficiencies, (the Claremont Colleges) decided to terminate plaintiff’s employment,” according to the defense attorneys’ court papers.
Hiroto was hired in 2009 as a telephone operator in the IT department and in March 2017 was promoted to the position of administrative support specialist, when Veerachaylukana became her immediate supervisor, the suit stated.
In a sworn declaration, Hiroto said she initially had a “very good working relationship” with Veerachaylukana.
“We had pleasant conversations and we seemed to work well together,” Hiroto said. “I was adjusting to a new position as a result of my promotion and was learning a lot of new things that were challenging. I discussed the challenges I had with Monty (Veerachaylukana) and he provided me good input. He acknowledged the challenges I would have in transitioning to and learning my new position but was patient and understanding.”
But in April 2018, Hiroto said, she reported to Veerachaylukana that she was being sexually harassed by Mike Freese, the telecommunications supervisor for the Claremont Colleges.
The alleged harassment began in 2016 when Hiroto was in her late 20s and Freese was nearly 60, according to her suit. Freese told Hiroto she should date older men because “older guys were more mature and still got it” and that he would make her “feel things that no other man could,” statements that made the plaintiff uncomfortable, according to her suit.
Things changed between Hiroto and Veerachaylukana after she came forward about Freese, according to Hiroto.
“Among other things, he seemed upset at me and acted coldly towards me,” Hiroto said. “He also began belittling me at our regular weekly meetings.”
Veerachaylukana “basically told me I was not doing a good job and made me feel worthless.”
Hiroto further said she tried to do what Veerachaylukana asked of her, but that he “kept changing his directives to me and was confusing about what he was talking about. He would come up with something to criticize me about during each of these weekly meetings after I had reported the sexual harassment. I regularly came out of our meetings and cried.”
The criticisms persisted until Hiroto was fired in August 2019, she said.