Lawsuit claims female sexual harassment officer "pulled a Filner"
SAN DIEGO - An employee of San Diego-based Bridgepoint Education says she and others were sexually harassed by the last person one might expect: the woman in charge of implementing the policy on sexual harassment.
According to a just-filed lawsuit, the incident occurred at a luxury Four Seasons Hotel in Denver, the site of a 2011 corporate retreat for human resources employees of Bridgepoint Education, which owns Ashford University.
Wendy Young, an executive assistant, says the group was hanging out at a hotel bar when Rebecca Magnuson sat down next to her. Young says Magnuson was at the time the director of learning and development, in charge of implementing the sexual harassment training.
A lawsuit describes what happened next -- as "pulling a Filner."
"She (Magnuson) grabbed the back of my hair with her left hand, grabbed my breast with her right hand, pulled my head back and tried to stick her tongue in my throat," said Young. "I was in shock. I couldn't believe it."
Young says she talked to another alleged victim who said Magnuson made similar moves on other women that night. Young says when she went to her boss, Charlene Dackerman, the senior vice president of human resources, her boss laughed it off.
"She said Becky was just trying to find herself … and drunk," said Young.
Young says while Magnuson was later promoted, she endured daily anguish at the hands of her boss, who sent her on demeaning errands and called her names.
"I was called a b****, a stupid *****, a skinny ***** and a dumb *****," said Young.
Dan Gilleon, Young's attorney, told 10News, "It must be terrifying for people at Bridgepoint to know the person they're supposed to will not only brush it off, but retaliate. It sends a signal to everyone below … that sexual harassment is not only going to be tolerated, in some ways, it's condoned."
Young's lawsuit comes two months after an employee of Ashford University filed suit, alleging sexual harassment by a manager.
That suit prompted Young to come forward.
"My message is people do not have to put up with this harassment," she said. "They need to speak up."
In a statement, the company said, "Bridgepoint Education believes the lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend against it. The company maintains stringent standards for ethical and professional behavior by its employees and has zero tolerance for violations of its policies."