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Local lawyer faces sexual harassment lawsuit

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A paralegal has accused her former employer, a local attorney, of sexual harassment in a recently filed lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the attorney, Steven L. Saldo, made sexual advances on the female employee and engaged in unwanted verbal and physical sexual conduct, at one point even offering the woman money and a promotion if she acquiesced to his advances.

“[Saldo]’s harassing conduct was so severe, widespread, and persistent that it altered the conditions of employment,” the lawsuit stated. “And a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s circumstances would have considered the work environment hostile or abusive.”

The lawsuit lays out multiple instances of alleged sexual harassment. It claims that in September 2016, Saldo invited the woman to his home under the auspices of discussing a possible promotion to a personal assistant position. Once she was there, he allegedly tried to kiss her, rubbed her back, and slapped her buttocks as she left, the lawsuit stated.

The suit also alleges that Saldo made additional advances and inappropriate sexual comments following the incident, including offering her $125,000 in a joint bank account in addition to the promotion if she accepted his advances.

“The plaintiff declined, concluding after everything that had transpired, defendant Saldo was looking for a ‘personal hooker’ rather than a legal or personal assistant,” the lawsuit stated. 

The quid-pro-quo promises were included in text messages Saldo sent to the woman, the lawsuit alleged.

“Don’t worry you’ll still have a job. Many 25”36 willing to accept the job. You are number 1 but need a decision … Have you decided. Would love to have you and$$$$$ will be your way,” reads a text the lawsuit claims is from Saldo. 

As of Dec. 14, Saldo had yet to file a response to the lawsuit in SLO Superior Court. Saldo denied the allegations in an email to New Times.

“The accusations against me are baseless and are being leveled by a former employee,” he wrote.

Stephen Danz, one of the two attorneys representing the woman filing the case against Saldo, declined to comment for this story. The second, San Francisco-based attorney Dwight Cooper, did not return calls seeking comment on the lawsuit. 

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