Ex-Staffer Says Tycoon Paid in ‘Happy Endings’

     WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) – Florida real estate mogul James Batmasian pressured his staff to take vouchers for sexual favors at local massage parlors in lieu of overtime pay, a former employee claims.
     In a complaint filed in Palm Beach County court, Stacey Blake claims that “billionaire real estate tycoon” James Batmasian refused to give him and other employees overtime wages, insisting that they instead accept vouchers from local massage parlors where they could receive a “happy ending” massage involving “manual sexual stimulation.”
     The lawsuit, filed July 31, alleges Blake complained about the situation, but was told it was Batmasian’s policy that overtime pay would not be granted. He says Batmasian meanwhile forced him to donate to charities “against [his] will” and made him “work for charities without any compensation at all.”
     Blake additionally claims Batmasian subjected staff members to “obscene and profane” text messages, which were circulated between members of Batmasian’s upper management.
     Some of the alleged text messages between Batmasian and his managers, which are included in the case exhibits, contain crude jokes as well as pornographic imagery.
     Blake says he was fired from his property management job shortly after he refused to help defend Batmasian in a sexual harassment case filed by the mogul’s former leasing agent Karla Sotomayor.
     In that case, Sotomayor alleged that Batmasian constantly made lewd comments around her and tried to pimp her out to his business associates. She claimed Batmasian asked her to work on lease arrangements for prostitutes whom Batmasian had granted rental discounts in exchange for sexual favors.
     The Sotomayor case was filed in June 2014 and is pending in Palm Beach County’s Fifteenth Judicial Circuit.
     In public statements, Batmasian has vehemently denied the allegations of sexually charged misconduct, characterizing the salacious claims as the product of a smear campaign by disgruntled former employees.
     He unsuccessfully attempted to have the Sotomayor lawsuit deemed confidential and sealed from public viewing.
     Batmasian is widely known as one of the most prominent commercial landlords in South Florida. He previously made headlines when he served a brief prison sentence stemming from 2008 tax evasion charges.
     Blake and Sotomayor are represented by Chris Kleppin of Glasser & Kleppin in Plantation, Fla.
     The Blake lawsuit lists a single count for recovery of overtime wages.
     Sotomayor’s case seeks damages for sexual harassment, wrongful termination and violations of the Florida Civil Rights Act.

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