MCA Inc. has quietly resolved a high-profile sexual harassment case by agreeing to pay a former Universal Studios Hollywood tour employee an estimated $600,000 in an out-of-court settlement, sources said Wednesday.
In a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed in December, Wendy-Sue Rosen accused two of her bosses of pinching and fondling her at the theme park box office and offering her money for sexual favors. She accused one of her superiors of masturbating in front of her.
The case prompted a Times story seven months ago that detailed allegations regarding sexual harassment of female employees for nearly a decade. The company has said that it does not have a sexual harassment problem and noted that the Rosen suit was one of only two harassment suits filed against Universal.
The legal dispute--which drew nationwide media attention--was resolved before dawn Tuesday after 15 hours of mediation in the Los Angeles offices of MCA’s attorney, sources said.
MCA, the parent company of Universal Studios, admitted no wrongdoing in settling the multimillion-dollar lawsuit, sources said, but agreed to hire an independent consultant to review the company’s harassment policies. The consultant must report the results of any findings to Rosen.
MCA executives in Universal City did not return calls. MCA’s attorney in the matter, Deborah Koeffler, a labor relations specialist with the law firm Mitchell, Silberberg & Krupp, declined comment but acknowledged that the case had been “mutually” resolved.
Rosen could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Her attorney, Dan Stormer, declined to discuss the settlement, saying only that “all parties are pleased with the result.”
Koeffler also represented MCA-owned Geffen Records in a sexual harassment case filed against the Hollywood record label by former secretary Penny Muck in November, 1991. Geffen settled with Muck for an estimated $500,000 out of court in that case. Another sexual harassment case filed against Geffen Records by former employee Christina Anthony is pending.
MCA Universal Studios Hollywood still faces an unrelated sexual harassment case filed earlier by former employee Loretta Miller.
In addition to Universal Studios Hollywood, Rosen’s suit named MCA/Universal and her bosses, Carey Doss, Herman Mogollon and Michael Taylor. They did not return calls Wednesday.
In her lawsuit, Rosen--who started at Universal Studios when she was 16--alleged that Doss and Mogollon repeatedly harassed her, going so far as to trap her in an office, where Doss allegedly masturbated in front of her.
The suit alleged that Mogollon, who became Rosen’s manager in 1982, offered paid vacations for sex, asked her to show him her breasts and rubbed his erect penis against her body. Rosen’s suit alleged that her complaints to her bosses’ superiors were ignored and that she resigned her post at the tour’s box office under pressure on Feb. 14, 1992.
In February, The Times reported that more than two dozen current and former employees said in interviews that they had witnessed sexual harassment or were subjected to misconduct ranging from unwanted advances and lewd comments to groping and “sandwiching,” where two or more men forcibly squeeze a woman between their bodies. The alleged incidents, mainly involving female employees, occurred at various locations, including stage shows, ticket booths and souvenir shops.
The article cited union and company sources in reporting that at least 23 employees--excluding managers and non-union employees--have been accused of sexual harassment since 1990. Seven were fired or suspended.
Universal officials said the park, which employs 4,000 people each year, had a strong sexual harassment policy in place. The alleged harassers tended to be low-level employees and supervisors.
Since Rosen filed her suit, the company has significantly upgraded its approach to combatting sexual harassment, said Linda Paquette, the attorney who represents the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Local B-192, the park’s largest union with 1,600 members. Paquette said MCA has introduced a series of sexual harassment awareness sessions open to all employees.
“I think there’s been a consciousness-raising on the part of the company and the union related to this issue,” Paquette said. “In spite of the extra efforts made, though, some individuals who complain still are afraid to name their harassers.”