February 16, 2020 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

“Fury” movie producer to face trial on nanny employment allegations

The producer of the Brad Pitt film “Fury” will have to face trial on employment allegations brought against him and his wife by a former nanny, court papers show.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel denied a motion by attorneys for Anton and Carole Lessine to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Tessa Wetherbee, whose allegations include discrimination, harassment, retaliation, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and failure to provide meal and rest breaks.

Anton Lessine is the son of former Kremlin media czar Mikhail Lesin. In their court papers, attorneys for the Lessines stated that the couple did not willfully fail to pay Wetherbee owed wages; that she was not harassed because of her ancestry; and that she was fired because her work performance and relationship with her bosses declined over time.

In her ruling last Wednesday, Strobel did dismiss a separate allegation of retaliation and also removed Valley Island Productions Inc. as a defendant. Anton Lessine is president of the company.

Wetherbee sued in June 2013. She alleges that despite giving exemplary care to the couple’s children after she was hired in September 2011, she was denied overtime as well as meal and rest breaks and also did not get paid fully for the amount of time worked.

She alleges she was fired in December 2012 for reporting to Child Protective Services that Carole Lessine had allegedly abused one of her two daughters and for demanding to be paid what was owed to her for her work.

Carole Lessine held one of her daughter’s arms so tight it left a mark, Wetherbee says in a sworn declaration. About two days later, the girl had a cut on her forehead, according to Wetherbee.

“Ms. Lessine said that maybe (her daughter) fell on her iPad,” Wetherbee stated. “Ms. Lessine said this with no visible emotion.”

Wetherbee claims she was often told to work more than 40 hours a week because there was no one else in the home to care for the Lessines’ children.

The nanny accumulated nearly 240 hours of overtime, but was not paid, according to her complaint.

About two months before she was fired, Anton Lessine “screamed at Wetherbee that he was already paying her too much, that he paid her more than his (epithet) lawyer and that he did not want her demanding more money,” the suit alleges.

During her employment, Anton Lessine repeatedly said Americans were “stupid” and were “puritans,” and the couple told Wetherbee “to be sure to not expose their children to the Bible,” according to the lawsuit.

The remarks insulted Wetherbee, an American and a Protestant, the suit states. Anton Lessine and his wife are of Russian and Swiss descent, respectively, and Wetherbee believes they are atheists, according to her suit.

Trial of Wetherbee’s suit is scheduled March 3.

Anton Lessine also produced the Arnold Schwarzenegger film “Sabotage” as well as “Fading Gigolo,” which starred Woody Allen and Sharon Stone.

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