A lawyer is suing her public defender’s boss for gender discrimination, claiming that he told her to dress ‘like a nun’ because her outfits caused inmates to masturbate before he would have fired her when she complained about his comments.
Former public defense attorney, Jami Pellerin, filed a lawsuit against District Public Defender G. Paul Marx, accusing him of firing her from the 15th Judicial District Indigent Defender’s Office in Lafayette, Louisiana after being improperly comments to Human Resources.
Pellerin claims her boss made repeated sexual and sexist comments against her over the three years she worked there, including asking her about her sex life, telling her to dress ‘less attractively’ and warning her that he could fired for being ‘too attractive’.
She also claims she has been underpaid compared to her male colleagues since she was hired by the defender’s office in March 2017.
The lawyer says she was fired in March 2020 in retaliation for complaining about the alleged unequal pay and harassment.
Marx has denied the charges as ‘sick lies’ and claims that Pellerin was fired for missing training to attend a wedding.
Attorney Jami Pellerin (pictured) is suing her public defender-boss for gender discrimination, claiming that he told her to dress ‘like a nun’ because her outfits caused inmates to masturbate before firing her when she complained about his remarks
In the 28-page lawsuit filed in Lafayette last week, Pellerin says Marx would often ask her about her sex life and whether she would get pregnant.
The lawsuit cites a specific incident in September 2019, where Marx and HR director Chris St. Julien and staff attorney Janet Brown reportedly told her that her outfits were inappropriate and that she should dress more “like a nun.”
Pellerin was told that her appearance caused inmates in the parish jail to masturbate and that it was her responsibility to dress “ less attractive, ” the suit claims.
Marx is said to have said to her: ‘Men have no self-control. As a lawyer and public defender employee, you have to protect these men from their basic instincts by being less attractive. ‘
Pellerin claims she was also warned she would be fired if she didn’t correct the situation by changing her outfit choices.
Pellerin’s attorney Jill Craft said News 10 the comments she had to endure on a regular basis were “intensely personal.”
Not only were there comments about her personally, about the way she dressed, her marriage, whether she was going to get pregnant or not, things that no employer is asking for, and from her perspective, even though she complained about it, she reported it to anyone she could think of, ”she said.
When Pellerin expressed concern about Marx’s comments, he reportedly told her, “I can fire you for being too attractive, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Pellerin (right) claims her boss made repeated sexual and sexist comments against her over the three years she worked there, including asking her about her sex life, telling her to dress ‘less attractive’ and warning her that he could fire her for being ‘too attractive’ ‘
She also claims she was underpaid compared to her male colleagues before being fired in retaliation for complaining about the alleged unequal pay and harassment.
The lawsuit also alleges that Pellerin was underpaid from day one compared to her male colleagues, with some paying 10 percent more despite becoming a licensed attorney around the same time as they.
Pellerin was hired as a staff attorney in the youth division on March 1, 2017 for $ 51,000 a year, the indictment said.
Her male predecessor was paid $ 56,000, she says.
Pellerin had already passed the bar exam in Louisiana and was a licensed attorney.
She says she was subsequently transferred to a felony position, replacing a man who only had his driver’s license for about two months but made more than her $ 58,000.
Pellerin claims that she tried to bring up the subject of reward at a meeting in November 20178 with Marx, but she received more sexual comments in response.
Pellerin claims she reported the gender discrimination and harassment to the agency’s human resources department and was fired in retaliation.
The Lafayette Parish Courthouse where the 15th Judicial District Indigent Defender’s Office is located.
The outcome should never have happened. When people complain about discrimination, they’re free in this country not to retaliate, and in Ms. Pellerin’s circumstances, she claims that’s exactly what happened to her, ” Craft said.
Pellerin also claims her dismissal was retaliation for helping a private attorney in February 2020 – a month before her resignation.
She claims that her male colleagues also helped the lawyer and that she also gave advice.
She says she was reprimanded by Marx for this, while her male colleagues were later praised.
Marx denied accusations of telling ‘sick lies’ The lawyer the real reason for Pellerin’s firing was that she had skipped the planned training to attend a friend’s wedding and worked with inmates “off-job”.
He said Pellerin often wore “ tight, revealing, low-slung ” attire, but insisted she was not subject to a special dress code “ other than our normal policy, which says you represent the office and you can’t do what you want. . ‘
Pellerin’s attorney Jill Craft told News 10 that the comments she had to endure regularly were “ intensely personal. ”
The public defender told the Daily Advertiser Pellerin has a ‘vendetta’ against his office and the suit is based on ‘scandalous quotes that are largely made up’.
“I want women who have these problems to be heard fairly,” Marx said.
“I also want this to be based on the reality of the workplace and not a vendetta from someone angry about coming back to the office.”
Marx admitted that there was a meeting about Pellerin’s dress, but that her version of the events was incorrect.
“We have a record of what happened and what was said, but this petition has been drafted to make it sensational,” he said.
After she was fired in March 2020, Pellerin first filed her complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
When the EEOC was unable to resolve the dispute, it filed suit against Marx and his office.
Pellerin is seeking unspecified damages for “extreme emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment” and has filed for a jury trial.