LOS ANGELES – A woman is suing the city of Los Angeles, alleging she was harassed and overworked by a member of a city commission on which the plaintiff serves as the panel’s one-member support staff.
Bianca Swan’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges gender discrimination and harassment, retaliation, failure to take corrective action, whistleblower protection and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Swan seeks unspecified damages. The suit states that Swan is Black, but she is not alleging racial discrimination.
“We will review the complaint and have no further comment at this time,” said a representative from the City Attorney’s office.
Swan, hired in 2015, is the project coordinator for the city’s Innovation and Performance Commission and is the only staff member assigned to do support work for the commission, the suit states.
Swan requested that the city hire more staff members to assist her, but nothing was done, the suit alleges.
In 2017, Jason Seward, the founder and executive producer of Your Turn Intern Expo & Celebrity Fest, was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve on the commission, the suit states.
Unlike the other commissioners, Seward placed unreasonable demands on Swan, demanding that she focus on his assignments, which were unreasonably time- consuming, prevented the plaintiff from working on other assignments and required her to work nights and weekends to get the work done, according to the suit.
From January 2020 through last October, Seward “engaged in a campaign of discrimination, harassment and retaliation” against Swan, the suit states.
At one point, a Your Turn intern contacted Swan alleging nonpayment of money owed, the suit states. Swan forwarded the email to Seward, who did not respond to the plaintiff, the suits states. Other intern inquiries followed, the suit states.
Swan later told Seward that she did not feel comfortable communicating with his interns since it was beyond the scope of her job duties, so reported the communications to her direct supervisor and the commission president, then also asked Seward to tell the interns to stop contacting her directly, the suit states.
Seward falsely blamed Swan when his agenda items were not scheduled or his projects not timely completed. and he berated the plaintiff before the commission and her colleagues, according to the suit.
Swan made a formal complaint against the city regarding Seward’s alleged misconduct, but nothing was done, according to the suit.
“It appeared that Seward’s harassing conduct was intended to cause plaintiff to quit,” according to the suit, which further states without being specific that the use of racial slurs and racist and segregationist attitudes “has been condoned and ratified by defendants for several years now.”
The defendants “have a history of harassment” and there is a “pattern and practice of condoning, ratifying or authorizing harassment of female employees that the city was on notice about but did not take action to stop,” the suit states.
Swan continues to suffer financial losses and emotional distress, the suit states.