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Water District Files Suits Against Workers

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District filed lawsuits Thursday against several employees for what it calls “unfounded accusations” of harassment against the district, officials with the district announced.

Wayne Lemieux, an attorney for the district, said the three lawsuits--one filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and two in Ventura Superior Court--ask for a court order allowing the district to open investigations into the employees’ own lawsuits charging harassment, and allow discipline for filing false claims.

“In the workplace, if you falsely accuse somebody of anything, or accuse your employer of something, there are consequences of that,” Lemieux said. “If these were filed as a result of an honest mistake, there is one set of consequences, but if there was malicious intent, there are others.”

Lee Feldman, the employees’ attorney, said Thursday he had not been informed of the newest lawsuits, but said the district had no grounds to file them.

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“If they did file, they just bought another [lawsuit] for themselves,” he said, adding that these lawsuits can be filed only after a jury has found the original lawsuits were frivolous or without merit.

Feldman said a district-appointed consultant reviewed his clients’ allegations and issued a formal report that concluded they were unfounded. A later study of her interview notes proved otherwise, he said.

“Every one of the [employees’] allegations that I’ve seen is corroborated,” Feldman said.

Jonathan Vo, a Vietnamese man who said he was subjected to racial slurs from his co-workers, was named in the suit filed in Los Angeles. Vo’s case against the district is expected to be heard by a Los Angeles Superior Court in July.

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Jose Hernandez and David Sarti, both of whom also have filed harassment suits against the district, were named in the lawsuits filed in Ventura.

Lemieux said the district determined it could not investigate the charges without being accused by the plaintiffs of further harassment, and is looking to the court to clarify the issue.


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