Earlier this week, San Diego mayor Bob Filner's legal team made a rather bold request on behalf of the sex scandal-plagued politician: the City of San Diego should step up and pay his legal fees in a lawsuit stemming from one of several accusations of sexual harassment. And now we know why. Filner's attorney, Harvey Berger, wrote a letter to the City Council saying that the city never provided Filner with sexual harassment training, as required by law.
The letter (which an ABC affiliate snagged with a public records request), is a response to the city's request for an explanation in Filner's request for financial backing, explains (emphasis his):
The City has a legal obligation to provide sexual harassment training to all management level employees, and to provide such training to new manages within six (6) months of hire...the City failed to provide such training to Mayor Filner...if there is any liability at all, the City will almost certainly be liable for "failing to prevent harassment"
Berger continues to explain that the lack of sexual harassment training is an ongoing problem in Filner's life:
While, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, many might argue that "you don't need a weatherperson to tell you which way the wind blows," and an adult male should not need sexual harassment training, I would point out that in his decades of public service for the people of San Diego as a U.S. Representative, Mayor Filner never received sexual harassment training. This is not an excuse for any inappropriate behavior which may have occurred, but having conducted sexual harassment training scores of times over the years, I have learned that many - if not most - people do not know what is and what is not illegal sexual harassment under California law.
"Had the city provided mandatory sexual harassment training to Mayor Filner," he continues, "Ms. McCormack Jackson may never have brought her lawsuit." And then things get really interesting. Although Filner himself has admitted to inappropriate behavior in vague terms, the letter gives some big hints to their defense tactic for Filner: first, that "not all behavior which is offensive is necessarily sexual harassment under California law," and a related second, that not all of the accusations against the mayor occurred in the eight months since he's been Mayor, or refer directly to an employment relationship (the plaintiff in the lawsuit, however, used to work for him as his communications director). "Virtually all of these statements refer to alleged acts committed years ago, not while Mayor Filner was in his present role, and such claims would be barred by the statute of limitations," he writes.