In June 1992, the New York Post wrote an article featuring the cases of two clients represented by Attorney James DeSimone. The article highlighted DeSimone’s involvement in the sexual harassment lawsuits in Hollywood and the entertainment industry at the time.
Penny Muck, a 28-year-old secretary, and Wayne Mogilefsky, a 23-year-old screenwriter, came to DeSimone alleging that they had been sexually harassed by their bosses. Muck, who worked at Geffen Records, claimed her boss, Marko Babineau, fondled her, masturbated in front of her, and went as far as to stick his penis in her ear.
Similarly, Mogilefsky claimed to experience sexual harassment from his boss, Michael Levy, while working at Silver Pictures. Levy allegedly forced Mogilefsky to watch pornography, asked him inappropriate questions like how much he would charge for sex, and implied that they had sexual relations to another employee. Both Levy and Babineau denied the allegations.
At the time, these cases indicated that Hollywood was ready for a change. Situations of sexual harassment like these would no longer be tolerated by victims. Executives and higher-ups in studios couldn’t keep turning a blind eye simply because these producers and writers brought in lots of money. By legally representing Muck and Mogilefsky, Attorney DeSimone helped to lead the charge against sexual harassment in an industry notorious for using sex and creating entertainment men that believe their actions were untouchable. Justice was finally pursued for those who needed it.
You can read the full New York Post article here
Postscript: Hard as it seems to believe now, in the early 1990’s, California courts had not recognized that male on male sex harassment violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The only published decision discussing male on male sex harassment compared it to horseplay. When Jim DeSimone arrived at the Santa Monica Court house to represent Wayne Mogilefsky in his quid pro quo male on male sex harassment lawsuit, he was stunned when the trial Judge kicked the case out of court writing tersely, “not a sex harassment case.” Going up against the biggest attorney names in the business, DeSimone took on Hollywood in both the Mogilefsky v. Silver Pictures and Muck v. Geffen cases. In Mogilefsky, DeSimone made history, appealing the Judge’s decision and achieving justice in Mogilefsky v. Superior Court, 20 Cal. App. 4th 1409 (1993) where the Court not only held that sex harassment violates the law regardless of the gender of the harasser and victim but that the motivation of the harasser is irrelevant. Sex harassment violates the law even if the motivation is hostility. DeSimone not only got the attention of Hollywood, he made precedent setting law which continues to help victims of sexual harassment to this day.
Over 20 years later, Attorney James DeSimone is still helping victims of sexual harassment in the workplace get the justice they deserve. If you have been subjected to unwanted touches, advances, or gestures from an employee or employer at your work place, you should seek legal action.
Attorney V. James DeSimone is a 35+ year experienced civil rights & employment lawyer in Southern California. Jim is a Super Lawyer, Rated “Superb” by Avvo, and is a US News & World Report Best Law Firm in California.
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