Tiger Woods’s ex-girlfriend has accused him of sexually harassing her while his employee, alleging that the star golfer forced her to sign a non-disclosure agreement or be fired from her job.
According to a court document filed on Friday and reviewed by Sports Illustrated, Erica Herman dated Woods for more than five years. She was also an employee at his south Florida restaurant The Woods Jupiter before she alleges that she was forced to sign an NDA about the pair’s sexual relationship under the threat of termination, which she argues amounted to sexual harassment.
Mr Woods was Ms Herman’s boss,” her attorney, Benjamin Hobas, wrote in the court document. “On Mr Woods’s own portrayal of events, he imposed an NDA on her as a condition to keep her job when she began having a sexual relationship with him.
“A boss imposing different work conditions on his employee because of their sexual relationship is sexual harassment.”
Friday’s filing comes as part of a legal dispute that erupted between Herman, 39, and Woods, 47, after they broke up last October.
Herman subsequently filed a lawsuit against the trust that Woods had set up for his Florida home in 2017, arguing that she had an oral agreement to remain at the place for about five more years but that the golfer had forced her out of their shared residence.
The lawsuit seeks $30m in damages.
In Friday’s filing, Hobas contended: “Tiger Woods, the internationally renowned athlete and one of the most powerful figures in global sports, decided to pursue a sexual relationship with his employee, then – according to him – forced her to sign an NDA about it or else be fired from her job.
“And, when he became disgruntled with their sexual relationship, he tricked her into leaving her home, locked her out, took her cash, pets, and personal possessions, and tried to strong-arm her into signing a different NDA.”
Friday’s filing provided additional details into what Hobas portrayed as a ruse masterminded by Woods.
“The scheme involved convincing Ms Herman to pack for a weekend excursion to the Bahamas,” the filing said. “She and Mr Woods often traveled on short notice for quick getaways, and she was told this would be another such trip. So, she took a minimum of items, expecting to return home in a few days.”
The filing added that Herman was being driven to the airport when she was suddenly instructed to speak to Woods’s attorney.
“Then, Mr Woods’s California lawyer, out of the blue, told her that she was not going anywhere, would never see Mr Woods again, had been locked out of the house, and could not return,” the filing said, adding that Herman then refused – but was asked – to sign a different NDA as well as an arbitration agreement.
In a separate lawsuit filed against Woods in March, Herman asked a judge to nullify the NDA that she signed when she began dating the winner of 15 major golf tournaments, saying that the agreement is “invalid and unenforceable”.
“Because of the aggressive use of the Woods NDA against her by the defendant and the trust under his control, the plaintiff is unsure whether she may disclose, among other things, facts giving rise to various legal claims she believes she has,” said the civil complaint, which was reviewed by Reuters.
In response to Herman’s complaint filed in March to nullify the NDA, Woods’s attorneys called Herman “a jilted ex-girlfriend who wants to publicly litigate specious claims in court, rather than honor her commitment to arbitrate disputes in a confidential arbitration proceeding”.
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