Ex-Aide Sues Conroy for Harassment : Lawsuit: Woman says O.C. assemblyman fired her after she complained about sexual advances. He denies allegations.
Assemblyman Mickey Conroy, the Orange County lawmaker who captured national headlines recently with a bill to paddle juvenile graffiti vandals, has been accused in a lawsuit of sexually harassing and wrongfully firing a former employee.
Robyn Boyd, a former part-time legislative clerk in Conroy’s office, accused the Republican from Orange of subjecting her to “uninvited and unwelcome” harassment, as well as an office environment replete with off-color jokes, leering, innuendo and sexual advances, according to the lawsuit.
Conroy denied the allegations, saying in a one-page statement that Boyd’s complaints resulted from “unfortunate misunderstandings” and that his office “addressed those matters by taking immediate corrective action where appropriate.” He said he would refrain from further comment until the case is resolved.
The lawsuit was filed in Amador County last March, but is being transferred this week to Sacramento County. Carolee Kilduff, Boyd’s attorney, said the complaint, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, was filed in the neighboring county to avoid publicity while settlement negotiations were underway with the Assembly Rules Committee, which is also named as a plaintiff.
Boyd, 35, is seeing a psychiatrist for emotional problems she alleges she has suffered as a result of the harassment, Kilduff said. Although the lawsuit contends Boyd was essentially terminated from her job, officials in the Legislature said she was on unpaid administrative leave.
Kilduff said Boyd has a master’s degree in communicative hearing disorders but came to Conroy’s office in 1993 seeking a career change. Her goal was to help write legislation pertaining to the health field, the attorney said. Conroy sits on the Assembly Health Committee.
The lawsuit said Boyd was told shortly after she was hired in March, 1993, that she should give Conroy back rubs as well as “hugs and kisses.”
Conroy on several occasions draped an arm around Boyd and let his hand fall on her breast, the lawsuit said. In addition, Boyd walked into a Conroy fund-raiser in Sacramento on one occasion and was called over by the assemblyman, who puckered his lips and said that a kiss was one of the “perks” he enjoyed as a state lawmaker, Kilduff said.
The lawsuit said other employees at the office told Boyd she should “tolerate and acquiesce” to the behavior. When Boyd went to discuss the problems with Conroy’s chief of staff, Pete Conaty, she was discouraged from complaining and told not to talk to the assemblyman, according to the lawsuit.
When the problems persisted and Boyd refused to change her stance, Conaty told her she would be blackballed and see any chances for advancement ruined, the lawsuit alleges. Conaty is also named in the lawsuit.
The result was an “intolerable” work environment, the lawsuit alleges. Boyd was ostracized, excluded from meetings, assigned less desirable work and had her hours cut, the lawsuit said.
Boyd was fired by Conroy, but she complained to the Assembly Rules Committee, which oversees operation of the lower house. The committee conducted an investigation and agreed to transfer Boyd to a the Assembly data processing center. She was seated next to another female worker who had complained about sexual harassment by a lawmaker, Kilduff said.
Boyd worked just three days before she became so emotionally distraught she had to leave in December, 1993, the attorney said.
The lawsuit contends that Conroy’s behavior was “intentional and malicious” and that Boyd was arbitrarily terminated without just cause, ruining her chances for a career in the state Capitol.