LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) - The trial of a former master control operator at Playboy television who alleged she was sexually harassed and fired without reason while recovering from surgery began Wednesday.

Julie Crouch said she was sexually harassed while at Playboy TV, and Playboy's human resources department refused to take action. One man groped her and spit in her face, she alleges.

Courtroom View Network is broadcasting the trial.

"Crouch says (Playboy employee Chere) Johnson harassed her incessantly about several surgeries," a summary from Courthouse News Service says.

"After Crouch underwent six chest surgeries where doctors tried to find a 'microscopic organism,' she says Johnson forced her to return to work with drainage tubes in her chest and accused her of 'milking the syste'" to try to get more time off. That move inspired Crouch's doctor to ask, 'Do you want to work, or do you want to live?' according to the complaint."

Johnson also made Crouch wait before back surgery in order to fire her before it happened, Crouch claims.

"After a surgery to remove a tumor from Crouch's uterus, Johnson allegedly required Crouch to return to work before her doctor wanted her to return, threatening to fire Crouch for her extended absence," Courthouse News Service's summary says.

"Six months later, Playboy fired Crouch, claiming it was eliminating her position, but then offered her former job to one of Crouch's friends, the lawsuit claims."

The trial, in Los Angeles Superior Court, can be viewed through CVN here.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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