Lawyer Sued for Harassment Gets Damages Award

August 4, 2010 ( - An Alameda County, California, jury has rejected the sexual harassment and wrongful termination claims a paralegal made against her former boss, and has awarded him $1.55 million in damages in his defamation counter-suit.

The jury also found that the paralegal, Allison Moreno, acted with malice and oppression, laying the groundwork for awarding Ostly punitive damages, according to The Recorder.  

Moreno claimed Ostly fired her when she refused to continue a sexual relationship with him. She said she felt pressured to have sex with her boss, and that she did so to protect her job and her plan to attend law school.  

Ostly said the two dated each other, and that he never fired Moreno — that he told her to go home one day because he couldn’t deal with her belligerent attitude after he confronted her about a serious mistake she had made in a case, according to the news report. He said he broke up with Moreno after she wouldn’t stop nagging him about his weight.  

In his countersuit, Ostly accused Moreno of telling colleagues at the Eviction Defense Center in Oakland — where she worked part-time — that Ostly was a sexual predator. He said Moreno took advantage of their sexual relationship, taking long lunches and billing him for time spent doing online shopping. 

The verdict also clears Ostly’s former law firm, now known as Murphy, Vu, Thongsamouth & Chatterjee.  

In his closing argument Ostly’s lawyer said he believes in the kind of claims that Moreno brought, but the system should not to be used improperly. “The system is to be used for legitimate claims,” he said, according to The Recorder.