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CULVER CITY : Fire Department Secretary Files Harassment Lawsuit

August 21, 1994

A Fire Department secretary has sued her former boss, the city and the city's former fire chief in a sexual and racial harassment dispute.

Eva Lopez says former supervisor George Robert Lewis, a chief mechanic, created a "hostile work environment" and repeatedly subjected her to harassment. In addition to naming Lewis in the complaint, Lopez is suing former Fire Chief Michael Olson and Culver City.

The action filed Tuesday in Santa Monica Superior Court seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, attorney Michael Leb said Thursday.

Lewis was fired in July, about two months after Lopez complained he mistreated her through "ongoing sexual commentary and other acts of sexual harassment." She claims Lewis also made comments about her Mexican American heritage.

Lewis has appealed the termination. "We are confident he will be vindicated of all the charges and that he will be reinstated," said his attorney, Phillip Tangalakis.

Olson could not be reached and City Atty. Norman Herring declined to comment.

Lopez said Olson and the city's personnel director and fire chief did not treat her complaints satisfactorily. Olson made excuses for Lewis and urged Lopez to "give it right back to him," Lopez charged.

Olson took early retirement after a recent Fire Department probe uncovering "numerous incidents of misuse of city property, manpower and improper supervisory practices."

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