Former Employee of Venice-Based Company Sues CEO For Sexual Harassment

Astrid Carlen-Helmer, a former head of development of a video production company based in Venice, CA, has filed a lawsuit against the company’s co-founder and CEO David Gitlis, alleging sexual harassment.

The 32-year old victim complained that she was forced to resign after Gitlis questioned her work performance as a retaliatory measure because she had rejected his sexual advances.

Allegations against Gitlis

The lawsuit filed by Carlen-Helmer in LA Superior Court includes the allegations of sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful termination. The lawsuit has named Gitlis as well as his company, HKCorp as the defendants. Carlen-Helmer is seeking damages of at least $350,000 according to the lawsuit.

Romantic Relationship

The lawsuit says that HKCorp hired Carlen-Helmer in February 2019, and Gitlis was her supervisor. The plaintiff further alleges that she entered into a romantic relationship with him.

Gitlis continued to keep this relationship secret from his wife, family and other people and misled everyone, while promising the plaintiff that he would eventually leave his wife for her.

All this while, Carlen-Helmer continued to work hard at the firm and was also appreciated for her efforts by Gitlis, as mentioned in her court papers.

Persisting with Sexual Advances

Gitlis and Carlen-Helmer agreed in mid-2019 that their relationship should end. The plaintiff found a new boyfriend a few months later, but Gitlis persisted in maintaining a sexual relationship with her and continued to make sexual advances, according to the lawsuit.

Gitlis would also make unwanted sexually oriented comments and stare at her. In November last year Gitlis discovered that Carlen-Helmer was in a romantic relationship with someone he knew, he started ridiculing her work and berating her in retaliation. He even confronted her outside the firm that month after he saw her with her boyfriend at a gathering.

Once he cornered her on this occasion, he went on a jealous rampage, berated her, screamed at her, verbally accosted her and made threats of physical harm to her boyfriend, according to the allegations made in the lawsuit.

Fearing for Safety

According to the court papers, Carlen-Helmer began fearing for her safety as Gitlis’ harassment, abuse, and retaliation continued to worsen, while she steadfastly rejected his advances to have sex with her. He then made false accusations against her that she had misappropriated company data.

According to Carlen-Helmer, the company had no human resources department where could file a complaint. So, she resigned to escape from the hostile, sexually charged work environment and from the abuse of Gitlis.

The court papers show that Carlen-Helmer has suffered humiliation, depression, emotional distress, and shame arising from the alleged mistreatment of Gitlis.

Get in Touch with a Competent Sexual Harassment Lawyer in California

If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual harassment at the workplace, then you should be prepared to bring the perpetrator to justice. For reliable legal advice, speak to one of the knowledgeable sexual harassment attorneys at Makarem & Associates in California. Call310-312-0299 today or email at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.