With Joe Francis getting ready to celebrate his first Independence Day behind bars, the Girls Gone Wild mastermind has a brand-new headache to deal with.
The boob-happy tycoon has been named in a sexual-harassment suit brought by a former sales representative who worked for his X-rated multimedia empire.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by E! News, Tranae Hammond says Francis' Mantra Films was a hostile work environment in which she was subjected to unwanted touching and sexual innuendo and ultimately fired after going public with her allegations. (View the Lawsuit.)
Francis isn't directly implicated in the purported misconduct but he is nonetheless named as a defendant because he's the boss. According to Hammond's complaint, the main perpetrator was her direct supervisor, identified only as "Ron" in the court papers.
Per the suit, Ron (Hammond says she doesn't know his last name) made unwanted advances (he's quoted as saying, "You look nice, can I call you?" and "I don't know why I like you so much"); touched and massaged her arms and shoulders; purposely talked about sex in front of her; and on at least one occasion "tapped her buttocks with a clipboard."
Hammond claims that after she reported the harassing acts to "Robert," a manager at Mantra Films, the company took "no steps to investigate or take preventive or corrective action against the defendant."
Instead, by failing to reprimand Ron, the suit contends that Mantra (and by extension Francis) condoned his behavior and then retaliated against Hammond by firing her a year ago.
The sales rep seeks unspecified damages for the "humiliation, mental anguish, and physical and emotional distress" she allegedly suffered in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Additionally, Hammond is seeking class-action status for current and former employees to go after Mantra's "illegal payroll practices and policies," including failure to compensate for overtime, refusal to allow the required 30-minute meal and rest periods and failure to maintain accurate records.
Hammond's lawyer, Matthew Matern, and reps for Mantra were unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Neither was Francis, who remains holed up in county jail in Reno, Nevada, where he awaits trial later this month on federal tax-evasion charges.
But Francis' legal woes don't stop there. In Florida, he's facing six state felony charges for counts that include conspiracy, prostitution, filming underage girls in sexual situations. And Los Angeles authorities have charged him with one misdemeanor count of sexual battery. In all three criminal cases he's pleaded not guilty.
And there's another civil cases pending against him. Although he settled a federal exploitation lawsuit brought by seven underage girls featured in a Girls video earlier this year, two Florida women have sued the infomercial king for breach of contract, claiming he reneged on a deal not to feature salacious footage of them engaging in sexual activities on a tour bus in his best-selling DVDs.