Former Employee of California Hair Care Company Sues for Harassment


Los Angeles, CA: Another well-known name has been hit with a harassment and discrimination lawsuit after the co-owner of a hair-care company based in California has been accused of sexual harassment. The charges are allegations only and have yet to be proven in a court of law. However, the harassment lawsuit follows in the wake of the #metoo movement that continues to gain momentum across North America.

The Daily Mail (02/05/18) reports the lawsuit was filed by a former employee of John Paul Mitchell Systems (JPMS), Tally Rossi. According to Court documents the plaintiff was employed as a media project manager with the enterprise. Rossi alleges she was coerced into a sexual relationship with the co-defendant, identified as Angus Mitchell, to which she consented as she feared for her job. Later, when Rossi attempted to get out of the relationship, she claims various examples of retaliation against her on the part of her employer, which eventually ended in her dismissal.

Plaintiff says she feared for her job

Rossi's harassment and discrimination lawsuit asserts that the trouble began in September 2015. The co-defendant had invited Rossi to share a glass of wine while Mitchell allegedly shared the details of what was described as a contentious divorce from his wife, Sian.

During this encounter, the plaintiff claims that Mitchell grabbed her and forcibly kissed her without her consent. The lawsuit alleges that Mitchell continued to pursue the plaintiff, convincing her to go out to dinner with him at some later date in spite of Rossi not being comfortable with the idea, the plaintiff says. Rossi asserts the co-defendant eventually pressured her into taking ecstasy and then "had sex with her," the complaint says.

The relationship - which was described as sexual - is alleged to have continued until January of 2016, when Rossi decided to end the relationship. As a result, Rossi claims she was subjected to various forms of retaliation by her employer, including instances of being "demoted and transferred," the complaint says.

"It was clear that plaintiff was being retaliated against for refusing to continue having a sexual relationship with defendant Mitchell," the complaint said. "Plaintiff was humiliated and felt bullied by defendants."

Plaintiff says she was paid to keep quiet

Rossi claims she spoke with Mitchell about the situation two months later, in March 2016, and shared with him the ill-treatment she was being subjected to in the workplace. The following day, the plaintiff and the defendant had one final sexual encounter before Mitchell allegedly begged Rossi "not to say anything" and proceeded to wire her the sum of $50,000 in cash, or so it is alleged. Rossi claims the payment was hush money, paid in exchange for her confidentiality.

The plaintiff, according to the lawsuit, shared the harassment and retaliation with the president of the firm a few days later. At that time Rossi was allegedly asked if "she wanted to leave immediately or at the end of the day."

Rossi took this as a constructive dismissal. The plaintiff proceeded to retain a harassment lawyer, and filed her harassment lawsuit in California Superior Court alleging harassment, retaliation and wrongful dismissal.

"Defendant Mitchell had a history of using defendant JPMS as a hunting ground to find women to date and have sex with," the complaint alleges. Mitchell is the son of JPMS co-founder Paul Mitchell.

The lawsuit claims discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex, failure to prevent harassment or discrimination, and constructive wrongful termination all in violation of California state law.

The lawsuit is Tally Rossi v. John Paul Mitchell Systems et al., Case No. BC692486, filed February 5 of this year in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

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