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Former public defender sues office for workplace discrimination

The Riverside County Public Defender’s Office is expected to be served Tuesday with at least the third legal action in as many years alleging workplace discrimination based on sex, according to Attorney Megan Beaman.

The plaintiff is a former Riverside County deputy public defender who worked for the office from 2006 to 2012.

Beaman said the plaintiff claims she was harassed by former Assistant Public Defender Bryant Villagran, who would confront her and other female attorneys about the work they were doing, criticize them as “not real attorneys”, and question their competence in their positions.

She also claims that she was denied promotion while less or equally qualified male public defender colleagues were promoted, and that she perfomed work and held responsibilities equal to her male peers for less pay, according to Beaman’s release.

The plaintiff also alleges that she was forced to quit her job and search for new employment upon realizing she would never be offered opportunities equal to her male colleagues.

She initially filed charges of sex discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC determined that discrimination did occur, but according to Beaman, Riverside County refused to discuss the possibility of settling the dispute, so the EEOC said the plaintiff could bring her claims to court.

Beaman said her client also believes that several additional complaints were filed internally with the county by other employees, alleging similar issues. Of the lawsuits filed, one claim is believed to have been settled, and another is ongoing in Riverside County Superior Court, according to Beaman.

News Channel 3 and CBS will release more details pending Riverside County’s response to the allegations.

KESQ News Team

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