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ANAHEIM : Jury Weighs Case Against the Angels

October 05, 1994|SUSAN MARQUEZ OWEN

Calling a former administrative assistant's work life for the California Angels a "living hell" because of sexual harassment and ethnic slurs, an attorney asked a jury to award the woman $250,000 in compensatory damages Tuesday.

But the baseball team's defense attorney said the assistant, 54-year-old Natalia Sweeney of Orange, has fabricated her story.

"If you give her money, you are essentially rewarding her for lying to you," attorney Neil Andrus told the jury during closing arguments in the 2-week-old federal court trial in Santa Ana.

Sweeney alleged that supervisors and colleagues in the Angels' marketing department persecuted her because of her Latina heritage and short stature, at one point telling her she had "stepped out of her class" and that she should be "cleaning toilets." She also alleged that several supervisors made vulgar sexual comments and gestures toward her, including an invitation to masturbate with an object on a supervisor's desk.

Sweeney contends she was fired in November, 1992, after three years of employment because she took her complaints to the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

"Ms. Sweeney has been referred to as 'Short S---' but she stands very tall in her courage in facing up to the California Angels," said her attorney, Michael Colmenares. California Angels employees have denied all of the allegations, and their attorney contended that Sweeney fabricated the complaints because she was unable to accept any criticism on the job.

The five-man, three-woman jury is expected to begin deliberating on the case this morning.

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