Woman Says Boss Went Over the Line | Courthouse News Service
Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Woman Says Boss Went Over the Line

EL CENTRO, Calif. (CN) - An obnoxious boss withheld pay from a woman to start a "breast implant fund" for her, and made her drive him to bars after work because he'd lost his license for a DUI, the employee claims in court.

Sandra Rodriguez sued Office Supply Co. and its CEO Paul McManus, on Nov. 25 in Imperial County Court.

Rodriguez, 27, says she started working in sales at Office Supply in June 2010.

"Although her official position was as a salesperson, throughout her employment, she was told that keeping her job 'depended on' her also acting as a personal assistant to Paul McManus," the complaint states.

Rodriguez claims McManus used his authority as her boss to sexually harass her.

"McManus told her that she had been hired because of her butt and that her predecessor had been fired for her breasts," according to the lawsuit.

Rodriguez claims McManus "started a 'breast implant fund' for [her] by holding back money from her commissions and by openly soliciting donations from others when out in public together, claiming she would make more sales if she had bigger breasts. Ms. Rodriguez had to repeatedly ask for Mr. McManus to release the money in this fund back to her."

McManus denied the allegations on Tuesday, in an interview with Courthouse News, calling them "lies."

But Rodriguez claims that McManus called her "Sparky," as though she were his dog, called her his "little Mexican," and joked in public that he was her pimp and would auction her off to the highest bidder.

He also forced her to chauffer him between his home and work for about a year after he had his license suspended for a DUI, and made her drop him off at bars after work twice a week and stay with him "as long as he wanted," the complaint states.

"In addition to the verbal abuse, Mr. McManus routinely engaged in inappropriate physical contact including slapping Ms. Rodriguez's butt, pulling her close to him, putting his arm around her and using his large physical presence to intimidate her," the complaint adds.

Rodriguez's 17-page complaint contains many more alleged incidents of verbal abuse and harassment.

Rodriguez says she put up with the harassment for four years because she was "young" and "naive" and needed the money, but "drew the line" when McManus told her to lie to the police on his behalf.

After McManus called a customer a "fucking Mexican" and shoved him out of the store, he told Rodriguez that she "better support his version of events" when the police questioned her about the incident, according to the complaint.

Rodriguez claims she told him she didn't like how he handled the incident and backed up the customer's story to the police.

"In response, Mr. McManus was incensed and lashed out at Ms. Rodriguez both verbally and in a physically threatening manner, claiming she had betrayed him, and sent her home for the day. This was quickly followed by a text message informing Ms. Rodriguez that she was being suspended for a week," the complaint states.

When she emailed him that night to ask why he had suspended her, she says, he told her she was fired because she was untrustworthy.

In the Tuesday interview with Courthouse News, McManus called the allegations "lies."

"Ms. Rodriguez is a very disturbed young woman who was fired from her position in February 2013 for assisting a shoplifter," McManus said.

"She and her boyfriend, (an El Centro City councilman), have a personal grudge against me for firing her and are trying to damage my reputation and harm Office Supply Company's position in the community," he added.

He said that Rodriguez often talked about how much she wanted breast implants, which she called "breastasis," because she thought she would make more tips.

"Both Office Supply Company and I will be vigorously defending ourselves against these outrageous lies in court," McManus said.

Rodriguez seeks punitive damages for 11 causes of action, including sexual harassment, failure to prevent harassment, wrongful termination and failure to pay wages owed.

She is represented by Sierra J. Spitzer, with Schwartz, Semerdjian, Ballard & Cauley, of San Diego.

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