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Former employee sues public defender’s advice




A former employee of the Lafayette Public Defender’s Office has taken legal action, claiming that she was harassed and then fired by her boss there.

According to the lawsuit, Jami Pellerin was hired in 2017 as a public defender, and was fired in March 2020. She claims that the 15th office for the defense of the indigent in the judicial district has never had an anti-discrimination or harassment policy. ” effective”.

The lawsuit, filed by Baton Rouge lawyer Jill Craft on March 30, indicates that Pellerin has filed complaints with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that accepts and investigates complaints of harassment and discrimination. After the EEOC investigation, Pellerin says she granted “right to sue” status.

Pellerin’s lawyer she replaced was paid $ 56,000, but she was only paid $ 51,000, according to the lawsuit. She was transferred to another post, defending people accused of crimes, and replaced another male lawyer who had only been a lawyer for two months – but who was paid $ 58,000, according to the lawsuit.

This man had been hired, paid $ 56,000 per year, before taking the helm. He was paid $ 56,000 until he passed the bar, and then he was paid $ 58,000, according to the lawsuit.

In October 2019, the board hired a man who had not yet passed the bar; as soon as he passed the bar, he was to start work and be paid $ 56,000, according to the lawsuit.

We contacted the local office and their boss, Paul Marx, for a response to the lawsuit and he sent us this statement:

“The matter in the Pellerin case is now in legal proceedings. I am ready to respond to the petition, and I note that our office has a complaints protocol and a process for responding to it. Unfortunately, all the allegations related to harassment and discrimination were never presented prior to the filing of the complaint. My prior statements to the media are sufficient to indicate that the petition will be aggressively challenged in court. This is the appropriate venue and the legal place to determine the facts. will be tried in this case by a jury. After the trial, you will have ample time to comment. “

The lawsuit also claims that Marx asked her age during her interview and also asked if she was married. Her response, the costume alleges was “we don’t offer motherhood here, for you young ladies it’s more of a pit stop than a career.” When she married in 2018, Marx reportedly approached her after returning to work and asked her if she was still pregnant. She claims that Marx continued to constantly discuss her sex life, and her potential pregnancy, with her colleagues and with her during “virtually every time (Pellerin) had a meeting” with him, even asking her if she was pregnant when he did. passed it. in the halls of the office.

Another alleged incident in the lawsuit occurred when Pellerin was working with an expert witness. The expert stopped Marx, who was passing by, to comment on Pellerin’s appeal. Then he and Marx began to discuss his appearance and how difficult it was for Marx to focus on his work when surrounded by such pretty women, the costume claims. The lawsuit also alleges that Marx said he only hired beautiful women to work in his office. Later, after the expert left, Marx asked Pellerin if he had just committed an “Me too” and she said yes. He said the expert was just an old man who likes pretty girls and Pellerin should take their discussion as a compliment. He also said, according to the lawsuit, that it was better to keep the expert “happy”.

Pellerin also alleges that whenever she went to Marx’s to ask for a raise, he struck up a sexual conversation. The costume alleges that he would talk about his sex life with his fiance and his own sexual prowess. She details remarks Marx allegedly made about an office worker, saying that she was popular at the courthouse and that he would like to have sex with her because she must be “wild in bed.”

She describes a meeting about inmates who could masturbate in prison and was accused of making them do so because of her appearance. She was told to stop wearing dresses to work, and when she reminded Marx that he had complimented her dress, he said it was because he was “a dirty old man.” She claims she asked how she violated the office dress code, at which point it was admitted that she was not – but that she has her own special dress code now. The lawsuit claims that Marx told her that “men cannot control themselves” and that as their advocate she must protect them from their instincts by being less attractive. The costume claims that Marx specifically told her that if she looked good after getting dressed, she should change before coming to work.

The lawsuit specifically accuses the office’s human resources director of complaining to Pellerin about Pellerin’s shoes; to accuse him of wearing only heels to “attract attention” and to complain about Pellerin’s clothes, which the director of human resources considered “expensive”. And, he accuses Marx of yelling at her about the “feminist victim card” when she complained about the dress code that only applied to her; during this same conversation, he suggested that she wear ill-fitting clothes and no makeup because she had “a responsibility to limit a man’s response” to him. The lawsuit claims that Marx also called her “hysterical”, “difficult” and “petty”.

The costume details several other similar conversations and situations, and claims that when she brought it up, Marx told her ‘chase me, I would like you to try’. He claims that Marx allowed male lawyers to watch other trials and help other lawyers, but once when she helped – with a good result for the accused – Marx rebuked her for her ” bad choice ”and accused her of not being a“ team player ”. “

The office fired her in March 2020, according to the prosecution, for that very incident, as well as for complaining that a male lawyer was being paid more than she was – before he even passed the call. closed off.

We have contacted the Office of the Public Defender and Marx, but have not yet received a response.

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