LOS ANGELES, May 16, 2016 — Attorney Cortney S. Shegerian, of the Los Angeles-based employment discrimination firm Shegerian & Associates, has released comments on a sexual harassment lawsuit aimed at NYC attorney Sunny Barkats. Brooklynite Denise Villalta alleges she was forced to strip and have sex during her 2014 interview for a job as a receptionist at the firm.
“The details alleged here make this a particularly shocking lawsuit,” said Shegerian. “You have a very young woman, 19 at the time, in dire financial straits operating under the lewd duress of a successful and high profile midtown lawyer. It’s a wonder that the plaintiff was brave enough to come forward at all.”
“Cases like these, however, can be easily cast as vindictive and petty ‘he-said-she-said’ battles. It is very often the strategy of the opposing side of a sexual harassment claim to attempt to discredit the accuser and to paint themselves as upstanding citizens, refusing to settle for the sake of justice, ” Shegerian went on to say. “A successful sexual harassment claim really does depend on the judge and jury’s ability to see through any faÃ§ades put forward by a truly liable employer, and it’s up to the accuser’s attorney to really drive the salient facts of the case home.”
“Here, the alleged facts are rather salacious. The accused alleges she was forced to have sex, not once, but twice with the lead attorney of the firm and offered gifts and promotions in exchange for her ‘obedience’,” Shegerian said. “Later, Villalta claims she was threatened via text messages and photos to comply with requests for sexual favors. If these facts are proven true, this attorney faces a serious uphill battle to clear his name. As far as quid pro quo sex harassment fact patterns go, this one is spot on.”
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