A former employee of Flaunt Magazine, which describes itself as a “satirical culture and fashion magazine” is suing the editor-in-chief Matthew Bedard and CEO Luis Barajas for sexual harassment, sexual battery, and a number of other workplace violations, according to Vice News.
Joseph Dalla Betta, who uses by them/they pronouns, told Vice News that while they were employed at L.A.-based Flaunt in 2018 as Luis Barajas’s personal assistant, Bedard and Barajas began harassing them.
According to the lawsuit, Dalla Betta recalled several instances when Barajas touched them inappropriately. During a business trip to Las Vegas in August 2018, then 25-year-old Dalla Betta alleges that Barajas insisted they sleep in his bed, and tried to kiss them. Eventually Dalla Betta pretended to fall asleep. Then, according to Dalla Betta, Barajas began to masturbate Dalla Betta, before masturbating himself.
“At that point, I definitely realized it was wrong,” Dalla Betta told Vice News about the alleged Las Vegas assault. “But at the same time, I still felt it was kind of part of the job — something, like, I had to accept in order to continue there.”
Dalla Beta reportedly told an associate editor at Flaunt, Andie Eisen, about the incident, who confirmed the details to Vice News.
When Dalla Betta first started working at Flaunt in early 2018, they were told that the magazine, which was founded in 1998 and prints six issues every year, was a “casual office.” They said that they were handed a pamphlet about the company, which described it as “provocative and have a progressive and liberal attitude. Please be aware that this is not your typical ‘office experience.’”
In October 2018, Dalla Betta said that Matthew Bedard kissed him at a Flaunt party — then slapped him in the face three times. The lawsuit alleges that “Bedard appeared to be very intoxicated and possibly under the influence of cocaine or another drug.”
Eisen, along with another employee named Jake Harrison, say that they witnessed the party incident. She tried to stop Bedard, but he pulled away, “I said, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ because I was standing right there,” Eisen told Vice News. “I could see Joey was trying to just hold it together.”
Dalla Betta quit Flaunt in December 2018 after two other colleagues spoke to them about similar experiences at the company. “At that point, I just — I cracked,” Dalla Betta said.
According to the lawsuit, Dalla Betta confronted Barajas and Bedard were confronted with complaints about the office culture before they left. “I know that we mix professional and personal relationships in this office, and if we need to separate those relationships from here on out, we can do that,” Barajas allegedly said, according to the suit. “We will stop doing cocaine with the interns.” Dalla Betta is seeking unspecified damages.
Barajas and Bedard have not addressed the allegations, and declined Vice News’ request for comment. The Cut has reached out as well and will update if we hear back.