By Akemi Tamanaha, 09/20/2023

A sexual harassment lawsuit filed against California State Treasurer Fiona Ma is going to trial.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Christopher Krueger ruled on September 14 that Ma will have to stand trial.

The lawsuit was filed by Judith Blackwell, the former executive director of the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. Blackwell, who is African American, was fired in January 2021. In the lawsuit, she alleges that Ma sexually harassed her while they shared a room together during the pandemic, SFist reports.

Blackwell says Ma exposed herself to Blackwell when they shared a hotel room and an Airbnb together. On one occasion she claims Ma climbed into bed with her.

“She exposed her bare rear end directly to Plaintiff on multiple occasions,” attorney Waukeen McCoy wrote in the lawsuit. “Ms. Ma’s actions were intentional and not accidental, and it was done to get Plaintiff’s attention. Plaintiff was uncomfortable and was fearful to comment on Ms. Ma’s lewd behavior.”

Ma admitted to several of the actions listed in the lawsuit but claims the encounters were not sexual in nature.

According to The Sacramento Bee, Ma rented hotel rooms in Sacramento when she worked at the capitol while also maintaining a home in San Francisco. She shared rooms with employees to “save money.”

Blackwell also alleged that she was fired because she rejected Ma’s advances, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Judge Krueger, however, dismissed the claim, saying that Ma’s office had provided enough evidence that Blackwell was dismissed because of her job performance.

Krueger also dismissed Blackwell’s claims that Ma racially discriminated against Black employees and fired her because she became disabled after suffering a stroke in September 2020.

The trial will focus on Blackwell’s claims of sexual harassment but not wrongful termination.