David Davidar's counter-claim may not help

Last Updated: Tue, Jun 22, 2010 13:05 hrs

Toronto: After making counter-claim Sunday on of 'consensual flirtatious relationship'' with former employee Lisa Rundle whose allegations of sexual harassment brought him down, former Penguin Canada boss David Davidar refused to speak to the media on Monday.

Closeted with his wife Rachna in the city's upmarket Oriole Parkway area since his sacking from Penguin, Davidar said curtly: 'I am not speaking to the media... you can talk to my lawyer.'' Calls to his lawyers went unanswered.

'Davidar had a consensual relationship with Rundle'

Davidar's statement of counter-claim has astounded many legal experts.

Reacting to it, Toronto employment lawyer Malcolm MacKillop told the media that the courts may come down heavily on Davidar for having an intimate relationship with a subordinate.

'When a superior (has a relationship with a subordinate) - even if it was consensual - there is a strong case to say it was inappropriate behaviour,'' said MacKillop, citing a recent case as a precedent.

Davidar's legal troubles will be further compounded with another former Penguin staffer Samantha Francis coming forward to testify that she too was subjected to similar harassment by the former Penguin boss.

In her June 10 lawsuit against Penguin and Davidar, Lisa Rundle has cited Francis as another former staffer at Penguin who was subjected to sexual harassment by the Indian-born former CEO.

Davidar admitted in his statement Sunday that he engaged in 'flirtatious banter'' with Francis also, but denying any conduct that 'he knew or should have known was unwelcome.''

But unlike Rundle, Samantha has not gone to court against Penguin and Davidar.

However, Penguin could possibly save its former boss from protracted legal problems by opting for an out-of-court settlement with Rundle, say legal experts.

In her lawsuit, Rundle has demanded $100,000 from Davidar for sexual harassment and $423,000 from Penguin for her sacking.