By Matthias Gafni Contra Costa Times
Posted: 06/16/2014 05:48 PM PST - EastBayTimes.com
MARTINEZ -- Four Martinez women are suing Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza, a Martinez franchise restaurant owner and their former boss, who secretly videotaped them in the employee restroom while they used the toilet and undressed, according to a lawsuit filed last week.
The four former employees, whom this newspaper is not naming because they are sex assault victims, claim for at least three months they had suspicions their boss Jason Lassor was secretly filming them in the small unisex bathroom, until they finally found a camera hidden inside a cardboard box on a restroom shelf.
In February, Lassor pleaded guilty to one felony count of child pornography and a misdemeanor unlawful electronic video recording charge. The next month, Lassor was sentenced to 120 days in county jail and served the time on electronic home detention, according to the suit.
"It was a significant breach of trust," said Andrew Schwartz, the attorney representing the women, one of whom was under 18 when she was filmed. "They thought that the rules were going to be followed. They were devastated when they learned about this device. They're still dealing with the effects of learning they were spied upon."
A request for comment to Papa Murphy's corporate offices was not immediately returned.
In late 2012, one of the women noticed a cardboard box with holes cut out on the supply shelf across from the toilet in the employee bathroom at the back of the restaurant, 1155 Arnold Dr. She looked inside the box but found nothing, but was concerned she and other employees were being filmed and told her co-workers to be vigilant, the lawsuit claims.
The suspicions "caused them to feel severe emotional distress," the lawsuit claims.
The women claim they were never made aware of their right to make a complaint, and they said they feared reprisal and retaliation for complaining.
On Jan. 16, 2013, one woman searched the box and found no camera, but noticed mounting putty behind a toilet paper roll.
Two days later, after Lassor went into the bathroom for five to 10 minutes, a woman claimed she went into the restroom and found a camera in the cardboard box. The employee called her co-worker at home to pick up the camera and take it to Martinez police. She did and Lassor was arrested later that day. The women had to watch the videos, about 21/2 hours worth, and positively identify themselves, Schwartz said.
Lassor eventually admitted to police that he had placed the camera in the restroom, the claim alleges.
A review of the videotapes showed the female employees being taped while using the toilet and while they undressed to change for work, the lawsuit alleges.
Three of the four workers quit their jobs after the camera was found; one had already left.
The women are claiming negligent supervision, training and retention, along with invasion of privacy, sex discrimination, harassment and other workplace violations.
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.