A personal injury lawyer has sued the California law firm at which he formerly worked, contending that his pay was at first cut and then eliminated after he refused pressure to attend a “New Warrior Training Adventure” outdoor weekend retreat.
Plaintiff Steven Eggleston alleges that potential activities there which he found objectionable included being encouraged to sit around naked in a circle with other men and discuss their feelings while passing around a wooden phallus, reports the Daily Journal.
Courthouse News provides a copy of the complaint (PDF), which asserts claims for breach of contract, sexual harassment and retaliation, among other alleged causes of action. The defendants are the law firm and its two name partners, as well as a number of unidentified John Does.
Name partner Brian Chase of Bisnar/Chase called the complaint “outrageous” and a “shakedown” of the Newport Beach law firm, the Daily Journal article continues.
“Anyone with a filing fee can allege whatever he wants,” said Chase. He said Eggleston’s draw decreased pursuant to an agreement made at the outset.
Chase contends that the retreat, which was put on by the nonprofit ManKind Project, wasn’t a job requirement. The firm has filed suit against Eggleston seeking reimbursement for fees it claims he owes for cases he took with him when he departed, the article reports.
Although it appears from the article that Eggleston may have been a partner of the firm, he calls himself an employee in the complaint.
While the alleged facts of Eggleston’s case are unusual and extreme, employment experts say it is common for workers to claim harassment at off-site activities and meetings away from the office, the Daily Journal notes. Pointing to an apparent lack of connection between the retreat and the practice of law, they said Eggleston’s allegations of being pressured to attend the retreat, if true, would be problematic for a law firm.