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Lawsuit Claims Use of Derogatory Word Was Sexual Harassment

September 13, 1993

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A woman who said she quit her job because her boss repeatedly used a derogatory word to describe women is seeking $1.4 million on grounds of sexual harassment.

The boss, Robert Kuhel, administrator of Central Orange County Municipal Court, denies he used the word and argues that in any case it doesn’t amount to sexual harassment.

In her lawsuit, Bonnie Severson contends Kuhel repeatedly used the word ″bitch″ and sometimes preceded it with ″hard-hearted″ or ″queen.″

In pretrial testimony, Kuhel said he did once give Severson a note pad with the words, ″From the desk of the″ and the epithet following.

Severson, 54, said that despite high job performance ratings she was denied promotion and took early retirement from her $36,000-a-year job in 1988.

Kuhel’s attorney, Charles Matheis Jr., argued in court papers that Severson was rude and her personality fit the word.

But he said Kuhel never used the word and, even if he did, it didn’t constitute sexual harassment.

Severson’s lawsuit is scheduled for trial Jan. 24 in Orange County Superior Court.