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California

Democratic Assemblyman Steve Fox sued by former employee

A former employee has sued Assemblyman Steve Fox (D-Palmdale), according to court documents filed this week, alleging the freshman legislator created a hostile work environment and made her perform work for his private law practice.

Nancy Finnigan, who served as Fox’s legislative director for six months, also alleged in a complaint filed Monday that Fox once indecently exposed himself to her, when she went to his apartment to bring him to a required Assembly session. Finnigan said Fox answered the door “half-naked holding a pair of pants around his waist.”

Finnigan was fired in May 2013; she says in the complaint the termination was in retaliation for voicing concerns about Fox and his employees’ misconduct. 

Lisa Gasperoni, campaign manager for Fox, said the allegations are “without merit.”

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“The timing on this thing is really interesting because we’re right in the middle of one of the most contested campaigns in the state,” she said, noting skeptically that “six weeks before the election, a woman files a lawsuit.”  

The legal news site Law360 first reported details of the suit on Wednesday.

This is the second lawsuit brought against Fox by a former employee; earlier this year, a former paralegal in Fox’s law practice sued the lawmaker for unpaid wages for work on his Assembly campaign.

Fox is one of the most vulnerable Democrats facing reelection this year. He eked out a 145-vote victory in 2012 and is now being challenged by Tom Lackey, a Republican member of the Palmdale City Council. Republicans have made Fox’s swing district a target. 

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Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics.


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