Latin Alt-Music Boss Hit With Suit Alleging Kinky Sexual Harassment
See also: Nacional's Pastime.
Nacional Records is a little L.A. label (distributed by RED/Sony Music Entertainment) known for practically creating the "Latin alternative" category with spotlight-worthy artists such as Los Amigos Invisibles, Kinky and former members of the Tijuana crew known as Nortec Collective.
Now the label has to contend with unwanted attention for a sexual harassment lawsuit against its owner Tomas Cookman, who's also behind the annual Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York. Cookman denies the allegations:
The suit, filed in L.A. County Superior Court and forwarded to the Weekly by the plaintiffs' attorneys, claims the married label boss harassed two female employees and created a hostile work environment.
A summary of the claims alleges the following:
The lawsuit alleges that Cookman created a sexually hostile work environment for his female employees by, among other things, regularly leering at them from head-to-toe focusing on their breasts and buttocks, making sexual remarks about their clothing and their bodies and what he thought (or hoped) they would be like in bed, touching (or trying to touch) them in inappropriate sexual ways, making comments about sex and sex toys, openly displaying a pornographic video in his office, trying to have sex with them, trying to intimidate them by brandishing a machete or a knife when speaking to them, and openly referring to women by derogatory gender-based names (such as "b****").
The suit claims Cookman kept an apartment next to his home and invited a female employee there while his wife was out of town.
After one female worker got a tattoo, Cookman allegedly called her "a really bad girl" and said, "I would totally bend you over, pull your pants down and spank you," the suit claims.
Plaintiff Claudia Becerra alleges that he once emailed her a song called "Vente En Mi Voca," (cum in my mouth) and urged her to listen to the lyrics carefully.
Montse Perez, the other plaintiff, says Cookman once emailed her a photo of a man going down on a woman, discussed anal beads with her, and said derogatory things about gay men in her presence.
Damages sought have not been specified.
Cookman's attorney, Rebecca Aragon, issued this response, which was sent to the Weekly by a Nacional Records spokesman:
My clients, Tomas Cookman, Cookman International and Nacional Records, take these allegations extremely seriously and unequivocally deny all sexual harassment and other allegations of purported wrongdoing made by both plaintiffs. My clients have long been committed to providing a workplace free of harassment and discrimination and in accordance with the law. We are confident that the facts of this case will reveal that these allegations are completely without merit. My clients have a strong track record of promoting women in the workplace and in the entertainment industry.