After the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in October 2017, women working in politics in California wanted to make it known that Hollywood wasn’t the only industry dealing with widespread sexual harassment. Over 140 women working at all levels of politics – legislators, interns, lobbyists, staffers – signed an open letter calling for an end to the “culture of pervasive sexual harassment” in Sacramento.
One signatory, 33-year-old lobbyist Alicia Lewis, told her female supervisor at the law firm where she was employed about her participation. During the meeting, Shannon Smith-Crowley questioned whether there might be “blowback” to Lewis’ career. From there, events snowballed:
Lewis felt concerned about Smith-Crowley’s comment and set up a subsequent meeting with the firm’s human resources director, Kellie Narayan, to discuss her participation in the letter, the lawsuit says. Lewis also told Narayan that she experienced sexual harassment during her time with the firm, according to the suit.
The firm then set up a meeting meeting with Lewis, Smith-Crowley, Narayan and the firm’s managing partner Stephen Marmaduke more than a week after the letter published. During the meeting, they told Lewis she was “required” to disclose details about the sexual harassment and abuse she had endured, the suit says.
At one point during the conversation, Marmaduke interrupted Lewis and said the firm was firing her anyway, effective immediately.
That was definitely not the reaction Lewis expected, especially since the culture is supposedly changing.
Lewis filed a lawsuit against the firm, Wilke, Fleury, Hoffelt, Gould and Barney, Thursday in Sacramento, citing wrongful termination, failure to prevent discrimination or retaliation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
In the suit, Lewis says she felt “intimidated and cornered” into telling her story, and “humiliated and ashamed” after she opened up.