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Assistants Say ADA Lawyer Harassed Them

SACRAMENTO (CN) - A disabled lawyer forced his legal assistants to scope out businesses for ADA violations, kept tabs on them with video cameras, and required them to dress, feed and rub lotion on him, the four women say in court.

Jenn Doeuk, Esra Jones, Monthica Kem and Micaela Lucas say they worked for attorney Scott Johnson and his company Disabled Access Prevents Injury until they lost their jobs earlier this year.

Johnson had the women pose as customers to determine if businesses were violating the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, according to the lawsuit in Superior Court.

"Plaintiffs were very uncomfortable performing field work because they were going into a business under a ruse - they wanted nothing from the business," the lawsuit states. "They felt as if they were committing fraud; however, if they did not perform this work, their pay was effected (sic) - they lost their ability to get a bonus."

They say Johnson often sat in his van while they entered businesses to check for ADA violations, including sex stores such as Suzie's Adult Superstore and Adam and Eve. Johnson considered the mere act of driving by a business as a "personal encounter" in his complaints, according to the four women.

They claim their former boss also offered to help disabled community college students with their rent if they were staying at an apartment complex he was interested in suing.

Though they were ostensibly hired as legal assistants to work at Johnson's home office, the women say Johnson made them go through two weeks of "personal care" training. This involved taking Johnson out of bed, putting on his swim trunks and taking him to a hot tub, the women say.

"When he was finished in the hot tub, the plaintiffs would take him back to his bedroom, take off his wet swim trunks, dry him off, put lotion on him, and then get him dressed," the complaint states.

This personal care regimen forced the women "to touch Johnson and see his genitals," the women say.

They say they also dreaded helping Johnson change his shirt after he returned from court or a meeting.

"This requires plaintiffs to touch Johnson; he also puts his arms around their waists when they tuck the shirt down his back," the lawsuit states. "When he puts his arms around the plaintiffs his head comes in contact with their breasts."

While doing field work, the women had to help their boss get into his van and then strap in his wheelchair, a task that forced their breasts to make "contact" with his body, according to the lawsuit.

Johnson once asked Jones to feed him while he was driving, even though he "could have easily pulled the van over and fed himself," the plaintiffs claim.

"This required Jones to reach completely across Johnson's body to the point that she had to unbuckle her seatbelt," the complaint adds. "Her fingers would come in contact with Johnson's mouth during this process."

The lawyer also stared at the women "in a sexual way," talked about how he would like an Asian mail-order bride, and told Doeuk not to interview "men, ugly women, and anyone over thirty," according to the lawsuit.

Johnson allegedly had cameras all over the office, including one trained on the bathroom door and one above Doeuk's work station that "aimed directly at her breasts."

Doeuk was allegedly suspended after complaining to Johnson, and says the attorney asked the remaining three women to sign a document stating that they worked in a "fine and fair" workplace.

"At that point, Johnson threatened to take away their ability to earn bonuses based upon the number of complaints that they can get filed within a certain period of time," the lawsuit states.

"Lucas and Jones, with their livelihood threatened, signed the document but added several caveats after their signatures. Kem also felt that she had no choice but to sign the document because, if she did not sign it, she thought that she would be fired."

According to Courthouse News records, Johnson has filed 15 ADA cases in federal court in California since 2010.

The plaintiffs demand punitive damages and a jury trial for alleged termination in violation of public policy, constructive termination, sexual harassment, retaliation for complaining of sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

They are represented by Jordan Peters of Roseville, Calif.

Johnson did not respond to requests for comment by telephone and email.

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