Former N.J. Trump golf club worker says she was sexually harassed, tricked into signing NDA

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A former server at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster alleges she was sexually harassed and coerced into sex by a supervisor, then tricked into signing an illegal non-disclosure agreement by Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba.

The former server, Alice Bianco, made the allegations in a lawsuit against Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster filed Wednesday in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court. Trump is not named as a defendant in the suit.

The allegations date back to 2021, when Bianco, then 21, claims club food and beverage manager Pavel Melichar harassed her and forcibly attempted to kiss her; retaliated against her with “unfair job assignments”; and eventually required her “to engage in sex as a quid pro quo for continued employment and ‘protection,’” according to the suit, which does not name Melichar as a defendant.

According to the lawsuit, Bianco learned that an unnamed co-worker was writing a letter to Donald Trump’s personal staff about Melichar’s alleged sexual harassment and told her of her own experiences, which the co-worker alluded to in the letter. After it was delivered, Bianco said she got a call from human resources and decided to hire a lawyer. That’s when Habba, a member of the club, allegedly approached Bianco “pretending to be a friend,” telling her she had heard about the situation and wanted to help her.

Habba in an email to POLITICO, said: “I always conduct myself ethically and acted no differently in this circumstance.”

Reached by phone Thursday about the allegations in the suit, Melichar said: “I don’t know anything about it and I have nothing to say.” A receptionist at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster referred POLITICO to the Trump organization, which did not immediately respond to an online inquiry.

Habba, according to the lawsuit, encouraged Bianco to fire the lawyer and forwarded her a negative article about him. “Is this the guy? Be careful,” she wrote, according to text messages appended to the lawsuit.

Habba then allegedly invited Bianco to her car during her shift and discouraged her from going public with her story, saying she could “protect her” if Bianco signed a “simple” non-disclosure agreement that included a penalty of $1,000 a day if she violated it, in exchange for what the lawsuit described as a “paltry sum.” The lawsuit does not say how much the sum was.

“Alina Habba used the unethical silencing of my client, Ali Bianco, as a way to propel herself into Trump’s inner circle. Her behavior was predatory. Pretending to be ‘neutral’ when acting on behalf of one party is clearly unethical,” Bianco attorney Nancy Erika Smith said in a statement.

“After Plaintiff signed, Habba told Plaintiff that she… better not try to sell her story to the media because she would owe Trump the settlement proceeds and the media would only pay about $3,000,” the suit says.

The lawsuit seeks to stop the golf club from enforcing the NDA; allow Bianco to keep the settlement money; pay Bianco’s legal fees; and refer Habba’s “unethical behavior” to the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics.

Smith said Bianco is not seeking any additional monetary damages. “This is something I’ve worked on for my whole career,” Smith said in a phone interview. “It’s giving her her voice back. It’s outrageous to be victimized and then be told you can’t talk about it.”

The lawsuit claims that Habba “groomed” Bianco into believing she was her friend, and that her law firm ultimately drafted the non-disclosure agreement that she signed, which Habba claimed would not be taxed and payments for therapy. Neither was true, according to the suit, and New Jersey since 2019 has barred non-disclosure agreements in cases of workplace harassment.

Weeks later, according to the lawsuit, it became public that Habba worked as an attorney for Trump.

Habba was not a nationally well-known attorney before she represented the former president. In January, she made headlines when a federal judge in Florida sanctioned Habba and Trump, ordering them to pay nearly $1 million in legal costs for 31 defendants in a lawsuit they had filed, including Hillary Clinton. U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks called the lawsuit “completely frivolous” and said it was “brought in bad faith for an improper purpose.”

Habba in September also quietly settled a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by a former employee.

“I didn’t know my rights. I didn’t know Alina wasn’t supposed to discuss a case with me without my lawyer. I didn’t know New Jersey had banned non-disclosure agreements for victims of sexual harassment,” Binaco, who’s now a recording artist, said in a statement. “All I knew was that the person claiming to be my friend and advisor threw me in the trash as soon as she pressured me into silence.”

This post was originally published on Politico

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