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HURWITZ, ORlHUELA & IlA YES, LLp·
Douglas B. Hayes (Bar No. 232709) . dbh@hohlawyers.com·· . 10 Universal City Plaza, 20th Floor Universal CitY~CA 91608 Telephone: (818) 753-2381 . Facsimile: (818) 753·2382 Attorneys for Plaintiff Eliza Sproul
SUPERIOR COURT

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Excculive OfficcrlClcrk

Cory HJiurwitz (Bar No. 222026) 3· chh@hoh1awyer!!tW,

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OF THE

STATE OF CALIFORNIA

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FOR THE. COUNTY OF

LOS ANGELES

(CENTRAL DISTRICT)

ELIZA SPROUL~ Plaintiff:

) Case No.

Be 4·71 719
'GOV.
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) COMPLAINT FOR: ')

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NEW REMOTE PRODUCTIONS; M.T.V. NETWORKS;; and DOES 1 through 20, ' .
Defendants.

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(CAL. GOV. CODE § Il940ij»); . 3. )l'AH..~TOTAKEREASONABLE PREVENTATIVE STEPS (CAL. GOV.

2. HOSTlLEWORKENVlRONMENT

1. SEXUAL IIARASSMENT(CAL. CODE § 11940(j});

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CODE § 12940(k»; , 4. WRONGFUL (CONSTRUCTIVE) TmMiNATION IN VIOLATION OF S•. INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS;

PUBLIC POLICY;

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EMPLOYEE (CAL. LAB. CODE §§ 201, 202, 203) 8. FAILURE TO PROVIDE~l\J&:A~ :J
I.W.C. ORDERS);:
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I. w.e. ORDERS); . 7. FAn..URE TO PAY WAGES OF DISCHARGED OR R€SIGNED

6. UNPAID OVERTIM£ WAGES (CAL. LAB. CODE § 1194 and APPLICABLE

AND REST PERIODS (~.rL~'~; CODE § 226. 7 , ...~~r..liJG!\!L'E~

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DEMAND FOR JURY
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Plaintiff Eliza Sproul alleges as follows:

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I COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

pENERAL ALLEGATIONS


by California
,

1.

Plaintiff Eliza Sproul (,"Plaintiff' or Ms. Sproul) is. and at all times relevant was, an

individual residing in the County of Los Angeles.
2.

Defendant M.T.V. NETWORKS (Defendant "~MTV" or Defendant) is was and is a County of Los Angeles. Plaintiff is informed
Government Code

corporation doing business in the State of Cal iforni a,

and believes that Defendant

Mtv

is an "employer" as defined
,

sections 12926(d). 1294Q(a), and 129400)(4)(A).
,

3,

Defendant NEW REMOTE PRODUCTIONS

(Defendant "NEW REMOTE" or

Defendant) is was and is a corporation doing business in the State of California, County of Los Angeles. Plaintiff is informed and believes that Defendant NEW REMOTE is an "employer" as defined by California Government Code sections 12926(d), 12940(a). and 12940GX4)(A). 4,
The

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true names and capacities of defendants Does '1 through 20, whether individual,

corporate, associate or otherwise, are unknown to Plaintiff at this time and Plaintiff will. seek leave of Court to amend this Complaint to identity their true names and capacities when the same have been ascertained. Plaintiff is informed and ,belieVes and based thereon alleges that each (}f~e Doe defendants is, in some manner, responsible for the events and happenings herein set forth and proximately caused injury and damages to Plaintiff as alleged herein ..· 5.
acted

Plaintiff is informed and believes, and based thereon alleges, that each defendant

in all respects pertinent to this action as the agent of the other defendants, carried out ajoint

scheme. business plan or policy in all respects pertinent hereto, and the acts of each of the defendants are legaUy attributable to the other defendants. 6. Plaintiff is informed and believe, and based thereon alleges, that each of the

Defendants was the agent, servant. and employee of each of the other Co-Defendants, and in doing the things alleged, acted in the course and scope of such agency and employment.
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,., ,

. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS 7. Ms. Sproul worked for MTV asa Field Clearance Coordinator/Production

Coordinator beginning in January 2010 .. Specifically, she worked on the popular television show entitled "The Hills.') Ms. Sproul was well-respected and valued employee; in fact she had
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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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1 worked for MTV since 2009..
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Unfortunately, Ms. Sproul's employment with MTVtook a turn for the worse when

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the show began preparing for a trip to Costa Rica. On the Costa Rica 'trip, Ms. Sproul was sexually harassed and knowingly placed in dangerous situations that endangered her safety. The details of the Costa Rica trip are summarized below. However, the treatment endured by Ms. Sproul was

6 ' extensive, and the summary below is not intended to be a full and complete list of the events.

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9.

The Hills crew began preparing for the Costa Rica trip in early May 2010. The

week prior to the trip, Ms. Sproul worked Monday through Saturday, (May 10 - May IS), with little to no time off. She did not receive her scheduled meal and rest breaks, ] O. On May 16 2010, the crew departed Los Angeles for Costa Rica. In the days

leading up to the departure, Ms. Sproul had several conversations with Sandy Cohen about Ms. Sproul's job responsibilities in Costa Rica. Specifically. Ms. Cohen stated that Ms. Sprout's workload would likely double .and that the Costa Rica trip would

be "the

hardest thing that you

will ever do in your life." When Ms. Sproul inquired about compensation, Ms. Cohen replied that
her compensation would remain the same. but that these new responsibilities ~ould lead to future

employment opportunities, at 'MTv.
11. The crew arrived in Costa Rica on the afternoon of May 16) 2010. Ms. Sproul and

other employees were specifically instructed to mark "tourism" on their customs forms because
MTV had failed to secure work visas for' the trip. This outraged Ms. Sproul and other employees

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as it was well known that another employee) Ben DeNoble, had been detained in a Mexican prison for issues related to a work visa. 12.
On May t 7~MTV instructed Ms. Sproul to ron a few errands for the show with

another employee named Andres. Andres was a local citizen who MTV had hired to assist with the crew during the trip. Upon meeting Andres,

Ms, Sproul

was ordered into a van with him.

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Andres then immediately took his shirt off and began making sexual advances towards Ms. Sproul. For example) on this ride Andres stated things like: , • ' "Don't call barren; let's just hang, Let's just take off and I'll.show you all around Costa Rica,"
3 COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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"This is my place. I love your freckles. I like your eyes. Let's just take off."
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"Let's take the van, I'll show you everything. When can we hang out? Relax; let's

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,j list talk and hang out."
Later during this trip, Andres pressured Ms. Sproul to go off into the forest and

smoke marijuana. When Ms. Sproul returned from this trip with Andres) other employees

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immediately began making jokes insinuating that the two had engaged in sexual activity.
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On this day, Ms. Sproul worked until 4 am. She slept in the office because she had

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to up for work at 7 am the next day. She received

no rest or-meal
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breaks.
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15.

On May 19, Ms. Sproul spent the day with several other employees trying to secure

clearance agreements from various locations, ,One of the employees was "Salomon," who was

11' another local individual who MTV had hired 12 13
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to assist with the shoots.

While alone, "Salomon"

began to tell Ms. Sproul about his ex-girlfriends, which made Ms~Sproul very uncomfortable. "Salomon" also began showing Ms. Sproul various parts of his body.

16.
the car ride. 17.

Later, Ms. Sproul had to drive the male cast members to an evening shoot. The cast

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members were extremely inebriated and made crude and offensive jokes and comments throughout

Finally, Ms. Sproul anived at the evening shoot. This particular shoot took place at

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a bar. Stating that what took place at this bar was chaotic would be .a vast understatement. There
was

no security protecting the crew or cast members.. This was appall ing because most of the

patrons were drunk. Many patrons began jostling, grabbing, and making sexually explicit

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comments to the crew, including Ms. Sproul. 18: The shoot continued where more

of the explicit behavior

occurred. However. at

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this shoot itbegan to rain the crew had

t6 evacuate
to

the bar as the power had run out. Ms. Sproul

24 attempted to gather several employees
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takethem back tothe office; however no one caine back

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to the car. The only individual who returned was Andres. Ms. Sproul was forced to drive back to

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26 the office with Andres, who continued to make sexual advances almost the entire ride,
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19., This distressing behavior continued throughout the remainder of the week. For
May

28 example~ later on

19, a cast member friend of one of the cast members (actually a friend of
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the cast who worked at the resort and was hanging out with the cast when this incident occurred) picked Ms. Sproul up and attempted to throw her in the pool against her will. This activity was only stopped when another crew member ordered the cast member to put Ms. Sproul down. 20. On May 21 Ms. Sproul was actually allowed to clock out at 6 pm - the earliest she
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had clocked out all week. However, Ms. Sproul did not stop working as she had to scout locations for dinner that night.
21. Later that night, Andres
WIiS

forcefully pushing drugs on Eliza; putting it in her face

8 .and saying "come on. come on; y~u haven't been doing this all week. now is your time to relax." 9 10 Eliza was in a group of crewmembers, who were also saying, "hit this," Eliza faked like she smoked, and then the group said. "That wasn't real ! You didn't take a hit! Come on! You need to

. 11 relax." The group and Andres continued to press her to get high. Itwas obvious that Andres was 12 13 14 .15 '16 17 1S 19 20 2] 22 23 24 25 26
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pressuring Ms. Sproul to do drugs in hopes tbat it would assist his attempts to engage in sexual activity with her. 22. Finally, Ms. Sproul was able to pry herself away and returned to her hotel to get

some much needed rest. However, at S am she was awoken by another crewmember who demanded to use the room for sex. Ms. Sprout

was forced to leave and go sleep in the office, as

she had done earlier in the week. The next day~this crewmember told Ms. Sproul that a "mess" had been left in: the room after the sexual activity - Ms. Sproul 'immediately became concerned that she would have to pay for any damage to the room. 23. was no
01)e

Throughout the week; Ms. Sproul's mental state began to worsen. However. there to complain to because there was no Human Resources entity responsible for Ms.

Sproul's employment. As the week progressed, Ms. Sproul began to suffer from extreme exhaustion and dehydration. 24. .On the final night of the trip, Ms. Sproul essentially broke down. Several of Ms.

Sproul's coworkers noticed her desperate state and, thankfully, contacted a local physician. The physician administered a low dosage of valium and intravenous fluids to Ms. Sproul, which had
little beneficial impact.

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Ms. Sproul

was moved

to another villa, where she attempted to sleep. However,
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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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her condition continued to worsen. Around 4 am. her coworkers contacted the physician again, who once administered valium and an intravenous fluids. Most notably, at no point during this nightmare was any supervisor taking control of the situation. It was fortunate that a coworker had the phone number for Chris Rauscher, Ms. Sproul's fiance. Mr. Rauscher was contacted and was able to provide assistance during this process -. 26. The next day, Ms. Sproul's coworkers admitted her to a local hospital in San Jose.

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She was left at the hospital

and Mr. Rauscher had to fly down to Cost Rica to retrieve her.

Unbelievably, MTV did n01 order anyone to stay behind with Ms. Sproul. Mr. Rauscher eventually made it down to Costa Rica and was able to safely return Ms. Sproul to the United
States. 27.

Within the time provided by law, Ms. Sproul filed a complaint with the California

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Department of Fair Employment and Housing, in full compliance with these sections, and received and served the: right-to-sue Iener regarding her claims,
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION SEXUAL HARASSMENT (CAL. GOV. CODE § 129400»

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(Against all Defendants) 28. The allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 27 are re-alleged and incorporated

herein by reference. 29. At all times mentioned in this Complaint) section 129400) of the Californta

Government Code was in full force and effect and binding on Defendants. This section requires Defendants to refrain from harassing any employee on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin) ancestry and sex, among other things. 30. As a proximate result of Defendants' willful, knowing, and intentional sexual

harassment of Plaintiff Defendants creeteda hostile work environment for Plaintiff and caused her to sustain and continue to sustain substantial losses in earnings and other employment benefits. 31. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' unlawful conduct, Plaintiff has
[0

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sustained and continues

sustain physical injuries, pain and suffering, and extreme and severe

mental anguish and emotional distress; and Plaintiff has incurred and will continue to incur
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1· medical expenses for treatment, and for-incidental medical expenses. Plaintiff is thereby entitled
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to general and compensatory damages in amounts to be proven at trial. 32. The conduct of Defendants as described above was willful, desplcable, knowing,

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and intentional. Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks an award of punitive and exemplary damages against Defendants in an amount according to proof. 33. As a proximate resultof the wrongful acts of Defendants, and each of them,

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Plaintiff hes been forced to hire attorneys to prosecute her claims herein, and has incurred and is expected to continue to incur attorneys' fees and costs in connection therewith. Plaintiff is entitled

to recover" attorneys' fees and costs under section 12965(b) of the California Government Code
and other applicable Jaw.
§E~OND CAUSE OF ACTION " HOSTILE

wonx ENVIRONMENT

(CAL. GOV. CODE § 129400)

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(Against aU Defendants) 34. The allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 33 are re-alleged and incorporated

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15 herein by reference.
16 17 ]8 19 35. "" At all times mentioned in this Complaint, section i29400) of the California Government Code-was in full force and effect and binding on Defendants. This section requires Defendants to refrain from harassing any employee On the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ~c~stry and sex) among other things,
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36,

As a proximate result of Defendants' willful, knowing, and intentional harassment

based on sex, race, national origin, and ancestry, Defendants created a hostile work-environment for Plaintiff and caused her to sustain and continue to sustain substantial losses in earnings and other employment benefits, 37.
.

As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' unlawful conduct, Plaintiff has
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sustained and continues to sustain physical injuries, pain and suffering, and extreme and severe mental anguish and emotional distress; and Plaintiff has incurred and will continue to incur medical expenses for treatment, and for incidental medical expenses. Plaintiff is thereby entitled
7. COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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28 to general and compensatory damages in amounts to be proven at trial.

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38.

The conduct of Defendants as described above was willful, despicable, knowing,

and intentional. Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks an award of punitive and exemplary damages against
Defendants in an

amount according

to proof.
has incurred

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39."

As a proximate result of the wrongful acts of Defendants, and each of them..

Plaintiff has been forced to hire attomeys to prosecute her claims herein, and

and is.

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expected to continue to incur attomeys' fees and costs in connection therewith. Plaintiff is entitled to recover attorneys' fees and c~sts under section 12965(b) of the California Government Code
and other applicable law. "

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TIDRD CAUSE OF ACTION
FAILURE TO TAKE REASONABLE PREVENTATIVE STEPS (CAL. GOV. CODE § 12940(k» (Against All Defendants)

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40.

The alleganons se; forth in Paragraphs 1 through 39 above are re-alleged and
reference," "
At all

incorporated herein by 41.

times mentioned in this Complaint, section 12940(k) of the California

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Government Code was in full force and effect and was binding on Defendants. This subsection requires Defendants to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent harassment and discrimination from occurring, As alleged above, Defendants violated this subsection by failing to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent harassment and discrimination from occurring in violation of'the'aforeaeid laws. 42. Among other ihlngs, Defendants failed to affirmatively raise the subject of
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22 harassment, failed .to prevent retaliation by its employees, failed to express strong disapproval of .
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harassment, failed to develop appropriate sanctions, failed to inform employees how to raise and
harassment,

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failed to sensitize all concerned, failed to

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distribute or post information about the ami-harassment laws, failed to investigate ongoing
offensive

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26 harassment, arid failed todet9i employees from using sexually charged and
27 the workplace. 43.
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language in

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8 COMPLAJNT fOR DAMAGES

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"As a proximateresult of defendants' willful. knowing. and intentional conduct

against Plaintiff, Plaintiff hassustained andcontinues to sustain substantial losses in earnings and 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
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other employment benefits.
44,

As a direct and proximate result

of Defendants'

unlawful conduct, Plaintiff has

experien;ed and continues to experience physical injuries) pain and suffering, and extreme and severe mental anguish and emotional distress; and Plaintiff has incurred and will continue to incur medical expenses for treatment) and for incidental medicalexpenses, Plaintiff is thereby entitled

to general and compensatory damages in amounts
45.

to

be proven at trial.

Asa proximate result of the wrongful acts of Defendants. and each of them,

Plaintiff has been forced to hire attorneys to prosecute her claims herein,
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and has incurred

and is

expected to continue to incur attorneys' fees and costs in connection therewith. Plaintiff is entitled
to. recover and other

attorneys' fees and costs under section 12965(b) of the California Government Code . . . . applicable law. FOURTH CA.USE OF ACTI,PN
(Wrongful (Constructive) Discharge in Violation of Public Policy)
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(Against AU Defendants) ..

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The allegations set forth in Paragraphs 1 through 45 above are re-alleged and

incorporated herein by reference. 47. .At all times mentioned, the public policy of the State of California, as codified,

expressed and mandated in California Government Code section 12940, is to prohibit employers from discriminating, harassing and retaliating against any individual on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry and sex, among other things. This public policy of the State of California is designedto protect all employees andto promote the welfare and well being of the community at large. 51. Plaintiff was forced to resign her employment because Defendants, acting by and

through its officers, directors. managing agents, supervisory employees, and/or employees, intentionally created or knowingly permitted working conditions that were so lntolerable or aggravated at the time of Plaint! ff s resignation that a reasonable employer would realize that a reasonable person in Plaintiffs' position would be compelled to resign ..
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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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. Accordingly) the actions of Defendant's, and each of them, as described herein were

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wrongful and in contravention of the express public policy of the State of Cali fomi a, to wit. the

policy set forth in California Government Code section 12940 et seq., and the laws and regulations promulgated thereunder, 53. As a proximate result of the aforesaid acts of Defendants, and each of them,

Plaintiff has suffered actual, consequential and incidental financial losses! including without limitation! loss of salary and benefits, and the intangible loss of employment related opportunities in her field and. damage to her professional reputation, a1l in an 'amount subject to proof at the time

of trial. Plaintiff also claims such amounts as damages pursuant to Civil Code section 3287 and/or
§ 3288 and/or any other provision of law providing for prejudgment interest. . 48 . As a proximate result of the wrongful acts of Defendants, and each of them, ,
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Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer emotional distress, humiliation. mental anguish and

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embarrassment.as

well as the manifestation of physical symptoms. Plaintiff is informed and

believes and thereupon alleges that she will continue to experience said physical and emotional suffering for a period in the future not presently ascertainable, all in an amount subject to proof at

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FIITH CAUSEjlE.ACTION INTENTIONAL INFLICTIQN OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS (Agairistall Defendants) 49. The allegations set forth in Paragraphs J. through 48 above are re-alleged and
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incorporated herein

Py reference.
as alleged
above was extreme and outrageous and done with

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50.

Defendants' conduct

23 an intent to cause, , or a reckless disregard of the probability of causing, emotional distress. i
51. As:adirect and proximate cause of Defendants' outrageous conduct, Plaintiff
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suffered and continues to suffer serious and severe emotional distress. 52. Th~ conduct of Defendants as described above was willful, despicable, knowing,

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and intentional. Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks an a~aid of punitive and exemplary damages against Defendants in an ~()imt according

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tp proof.
10 COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES


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'SIXTH CAUSE OF ACTION

UNPAID OVERTIME WAGES (CAL. LAB. CODE § 1194 and APPLICABLE I.W.C.

3
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' ORDERS)
(Against All Defendants)

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53.

The allegations set forth in Paragraphs 1 through 52 above are re-alleged and
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incorporated herein by;reference. 54.
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By their failure to pay overtime' compensation as alleged above, Defendants
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willfully violated the provisions of section 1194 of the California Labor Code and the applicable

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9 , Wage Orders, which require overtime compensation to non-exempt employees. 10 11
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. By failing to keep adequate time records required by section 1174(d) of the
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California Labor Code, Defendants h~ve made it difficult to calculate the overtime compensation
due to Plaintiff. .

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56.

As a result of

the imlaM-ul acts of Defendants,
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Plaintiff has been deprived of .

overtime compensation, and!s entitled to the recovery of such amounts, plus prejudgment interest thereon, attorneys' fees, and costs, under Labor Code section 1194 and other applicable law.
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.'.SEYENTH CAUSE OF AcrION

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FAILURE TO PAY WAGES O~ DISCHARGED OR RESIGNED EMPLOYEE (CAL. ". LA;B. CODE §§ 201, 2.02, 20.3) ,
(Against All Defendants)

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57.·

The allegations set forth in Paragraphs 1 through 56 above are re-alleged and
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incorporated herein by reference, 58.

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. Sections 201 and 202 of the California Labor Code require Defendants to pay its at time of discharge of an employee or within 72 hours after
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employees all wagesdueimmediateiy

an employee quits his 'or her employment. if

Section 203 of the California Labor Code provides that

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an empIOY~~1lfu11Yfails to time~ypay such wages the employer must.,as a penalty, continue to

pay the subject employees' wages until the back wages are paid in full or an action is commenced. The penaltycannot exceed 30 days of wages. 59. As aneg~dab6ve~Plaintiff is entitled to overtime compensation, but to date has net
II . COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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received such compensation. 60. 61.
compensation,


. EIGHTH CAUSE OF ACTION APPLICABLE I.W.C. ORDERS) .·(Against All Defendants)

More than 30 days have passed since Plaintiff's tennination. As a consequence of Defendants '. willful conduct in not paying the foregoing Plaintiff is entitled to 30 days of wages as provided for under section 203 of the

California Labor Code, together with interest thereon and attorney's fees and costs .

FAILURE TO PROVIDE MEAL AND REST PERIODS (CAL. LAB. CODE § 226.7 and

62.·.

Plaintiffrealleges and incorporates herein paragraphs 1 through 61 of this complaint

as though fully set forth.

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63.

Section 512 and section 11 of the applicable Wage Orders requires: that an employer

provide unpaid meat periods of at least 30 minutes for each five-hour period worked. It is a
violation of section 226.7 for an employer to require anyemployee to work during any meal period

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17 'above, Defendant willfully violated the provisions of sections. 226.7 and 512 and the applicable 18
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Wage Orders .
65.

As a result of the unlawful acts of Defendant, Plaintiff is entitled to premium pay of
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one hour's regular pay under section 226.7 and section 11 of the applicable Wa.ge Orders for each
meal period that was denied as ~lleged above •.

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66.

. Plaintiff
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i!.entit]~d to recover prejudgment interest, attorneys' fees, and costs. '
r~wnti~praysfor
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WHEREFORE, 1.

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PRAYER FOR RELIEF

judgment against Defendants as follows:

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. For all actual, consequential and incidental financial losses including lost wages)
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26 medical bills, mental "fd emotional distress, and other special and general damages according to
27 proof but in excess qfth~ j·urisdictionallimit of this court; 2. forc?mp~n.s~tory and general damages in an amount according to proof;
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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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For exemplary and punitive damages against Defendants as allowable by law; For attorneys' fees pursuant to section 12965 of the California 'Government Code,

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and all other applicable statutes; 5. 6. For costs of suit incurred herein; and For such other

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and further relief that is just and proper.
HURWITZ, ORIHUELA & HAYES, LLP

Dated: October 1:7, 2011

By:

DOugSi; .
,I

Attorneys for Plaintiff Eliza Sproul
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REMAND FOR JURY TRIAL Plaintiff Eliza Sproul hereby demands a jury trial.
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Dated: October 17,2011

HURWITZ~ ORlHUELA & HAYES~LLP

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By:

.DOU~"·

Attorneys for Plaintiff Eliza Sproul
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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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