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ICN Head Reelected, Faces 4th Sex-Harassment Suit

May 29, 1997|JAMES S. GRANELLI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Milan Panic, reelected Wednesday as chairman of ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., was accused in a civil lawsuit filed during the day of sexually harassing a female employee for six years, often grabbing her and urging her to have his baby.

The lawsuit filed by Michelle McKenney, a former investor relations manager until she was demoted, is the fourth suit in the last four years to allege sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation against Panic.

McKenney's suit, as previous ones have, asserts that ICN has failed to halt the harassment, essentially condoning the controversial chairman's behavior.

The lawsuit was filed in Orange County Superior Court as about 100 shareholders voted at their annual meeting at corporate headquarters to reelect Panic and four other directors to three-year board terms.

Though Panic and corporate executives haven't been served with the complaint yet, a spokesman said the company is familiar with the allegations. Before suing, McKenney filed a complaint with the state Fair Employment and Housing agency.

"The allegations that we're familiar with are baseless, as far as we're concerned, and we'll defend this suit vigorously," spokesman Herb Lightstone said. "ICN has strong policies against sexual harassment."

Neither McKenney nor her lawyer would comment.

The company has settled suits brought by two former employees for undisclosed amounts. Panic and the company have denied the charges in both cases.

McKenney alleges in her suit that Panic started making passes at her soon after she was hired in December 1990 and continued to harass her through most of last year.

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