City Employee Files Lawsuit Against City of Santa Barbara Alleging Sexual Harassment

City Employee Files Lawsuit Against City of Santa Barbara Alleging Sexual Harassment title=
Robert Samario (top left) pictured with Santa Barbara City Department Heads including Paul Casey (mid-row center) [Photo: City of Santa Barbara]
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By edhat staff

A Santa Barbara City employee has filed a lawsuit against the city, City Administrator Paul Casey, and former Finance Director Bob Samario, alleging that Samario sexually harassed her and several other women.

The lawsuit alleges the city and Casey ignored the harassment or "turned a blind eye" to the alleged predatory behavior that took place over the course of 13 years.

Jennifer Tomaszewski, the current Santa Barbara City Finance and Treasury Manager and former Interim Finance Director during the COVID-19 crisis, has filed suit. 

Samario, who was Tomaszewski’s former direct supervisor, was placed on leave in October of 2019 after a report of sexual harassment by another female employee was filed, according to the lawsuit.

Bob Samario (Photo: City of Santa Barbara)

The lawsuit, filed on June 2, 2021, also states the City of Santa Barbara had spent a minimum of $100,000 investigating the allegations which generated a 150-page report detailing years of harassment against multiple female employees.

After the conclusion of the investigation in February 2020, rather than terminating Samario, the lawsuit alleges that Casey, without the City Council’s approval, permitted Samario to retire with full benefits and a positive press release thanking him for his years of service.

On February 26, 2020, edhat published an article where the City announced Samario's retirement after 24 years. The press release included a glowing statement from Samario praising the city and expressed looking forward to working in the private sector. The City did not address his abrupt departure or his long absence before the announcement.

The lawsuit also alleges that Casey retaliated against Tomaszewski by refusing to hire her for the permanent Finance Director position because of her involvement in the investigation and because of her gender, despite being praised for her work by other City officials during the financial crisis caused by COVID-19.

The lawsuit further alleges that Casey, Samario, and the City violated provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibiting sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace and prohibiting retaliation for participating in a workplace sexual harassment investigation.

“The City should have handled this situation much differently,” said employment attorney Christina Humphrey, whose Santa Barbara-based law firm, Christina Humphrey Law, P.C., represents Tomaszewski. “Samario’s behavior continued unabated for over a decade, and he was ultimately rewarded for it. Meanwhile, my client was denied a promotion that she had trained and worked hard to achieve for years.”

In her lawsuit, Tomaszewski describes numerous unwanted advances by Samario. One time, after Samario insisted that she attend a professional conference with him, Tomaszewski asked her husband to come with her so she would not be left alone with her supervisor.

Almost immediately after being hired, Tomaszewski details in the lawsuit that Samario began flirting and inappropriately commenting on her appearance, clothing, and fitness, and telling her she was attractive. Samario allegedly relentlessly asked her to show him her tattoo and when she refused, Samario told her that she needed to be more vulnerable and trust him more.

The lawsuit also states Samario asked Tomaszewski several times to bring in pictures of what she looked like in her twenties and to bring in pictures of her with her two daughters. Samario had met one of Tomaszewski's daughters and spoke several times about her body and how beautiful she was. Multiple times, Samario asked questions about her and her daughters’ clothing sizes and how much they worked out.

The accusations continue in the filing that include Samario frequently asking for hugs that he called "Bob's Hug Club," told sexually-charged jokes and talked about racy movies to and around female employees, and discussed and motioned the sexual positions he and his wife do.

Tomaszewski worked directly under Finance Director Samario for nearly 5 years until he was permitted to retire and she was appointed Interim Finance Director by the City of Santa Barbara.

Tomaszewski effectively balanced the City budget in 2020, during a worldwide pandemic, when most cities were experiencing significant loss of revenue and the largest financial crisis in history.

Related Articles

 February 26, 2020: Santa Barbara City Finance Director Retires

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Transparent Jun 08, 2021 03:50 PM
City Employee Files Lawsuit Against City of Santa Barbara Alleging Sexual Harassment

Wow. So there was a report documenting wrongdoing, and Paul Casey just swept it under the rug with a quiet retirement... we really need to show Mr. Casey the door.

That's no path to justice. Not for the victims, nor Mr. Samario, nor for our City's organizational culture. Unfortunately, it's a very common story in the "Boys' Club" culture. Still a chance to make good on this.

a-1622914915 Jun 05, 2021 10:41 AM
City Employee Files Lawsuit Against City of Santa Barbara Alleging Sexual Harassment

Everyone loses when the job environment is dominated by bullies/harassers. A family member in a high finance job locally was happily employed for 8 years until a new supervisor came in who had competed with her for his job. For the next four years he verbally harassed her with sexual innuendo, lewd jokes, and crappy job assignments. She left and found another job. This married supervisor carried on an open 20 year affair with an employee in another department. This stuff happens, and to say women should stop whining and put up with it misses the point. Everyone loses when the job environment is ruled by bullies.

a-1622820792 Jun 04, 2021 08:33 AM
City Employee Files Lawsuit Against City of Santa Barbara Alleging Sexual Harassment

The City has had various law suits after law suits for decades yet the City Administrator, who is responsible for administering the staff, remains in place and gets a huge salary and benefits. We tax payers just get to keep paying out tax dollars for these lost law suits (as well as huge employee costs). At what point does the City Council say"enough"?

a-1622769471 Jun 03, 2021 06:17 PM
City Employee Files Lawsuit Against City of Santa Barbara Alleging Sexual Harassment

That's gross babycakes, and 100% the reason why so many women do not come forward. Also, the article says he's been doing this for 13 years to various women, one in particular for the past 5 years. This dude worked in this department for 24 years, imagine all the stuff he did to women who did not report it for fear of being blamed like you just did. You're gross.

SantaBarbaraObserver Jun 03, 2021 04:56 PM
City Employee Files Lawsuit Against City of Santa Barbara Alleging Sexual Harassment

It is time for Paul Casey to move on. He's too entrenched. The list of his shortcomings and rumored indiscretions has grown far too long. We need to remind him, and the other self anointed rulers of SB, who they actually serve. Fire him. Fire them. Fresh blood, new people, new directions.

PitMix Jun 03, 2021 03:46 PM
City Employee Files Lawsuit Against City of Santa Barbara Alleging Sexual Harassment

Those guys protect each other, hoping they can prevent this dirty laundry from being aired in public. Usually this means the accuser's career is over and they just want to walk away with a big settlement from the public agency. Their chances of getting hired by another public agency after filing suit are pretty small. Seems like they will get a pretty good settlement out of this if there are multiple accusations with supporting evidence.

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