Filner Asks City to Pick Up His Legal Expenses


Last we heard from San Diego Mayor Bob Filner he had prompted no fewer than seven women to come forward to allege various forms of harassment ranging from unwanted advances to borderline assault. At the end of last week, Filner took off for a quickie two-week psychological fix up at an undisclosed rehab facility to help him stop harassing women. But now he’s asking the City of San Diego to pick up his legal expenses for the sexual harassment filed by Irene McCormack, his former Communications Director.To the best of my knowledge, the story was first reported by a local San Diego network affiliate based on the release of a City Council agenda for a meeting on Tuesday.

Filner’s lawyer, Harvey C Berger, makes the claim under California Government Code section 825 and 995.

With the proviso that I’m not a lawyer, a quick perusal of the statutes suggests that these are fairly straightforward laws meant to shield employees of government or other public entities from liability for things they did or didn’t do in the course of their work. But the law seems pretty clear that that it is intended to cover things you do “within the scope of [your] employment as an employee of the public entity” and while acting without malice and in good faith.

In other words, it’s not intended to protect you for whatever goofing off you might do while you’re Mayor of harassing and/or fondling your employees. So I would think that harassment claims – at least if proven – would arguably fall outside these bounds.

In any case, this basic question must have been adjudicated at some point. So I’m curious whether Filner has much leg to stand on. (Anyone know more about the case law on this?) Regardless, I would imagine this will not further endear him to his beleaguered constituents.