A former employee at a Donald Trump-owned golf club in New Jersey is suing the entity that owns the Trump National Golf Club, alleging she was sexually harassed by a manager, coerced into sex by him, and made to sign an “illegal NDA” by Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba.
Alice Bianco, who worked as a server at the club, claims food and beverage manager Pavel Melichar repeatedly sexually harassed her throughout 2021 — eventually forcing a kiss and then coercing her to have quid pro quo sex to keep her job.
Melichar’s reputation with female employees at the club soon became an established and known problem, the lawsuit claims. Complaints were raised with higher-ups, and various allegations were detailed in a letter written by one of Bianco’s co-workers that, according to the filing, was delivered to “a member of Donald Trump’s personal staff.”
Bianco hired an employment attorney after being contacted by human resources. But another lawyer contacted her soon after that, according to the 13-page lawsuit — part of a broader 74-page court filing inclusive of motions and exhibits — obtained by Law&Crime.
The lawsuit does not name Habba, Melichar, or Trump as defendants. Nor do any of the various filings seek damages. Instead, the lawsuit seeks to stop Lamington Farm Club, LLC — the company that does business as the golf club — from even attempting to enforce the NDA, asks for the NDA to be declared void under New Jersey law, requests that Habba be referred to the Garden State Office of Attorney Ethics, and for the club to pay Bianco’s attorney’s fees.
“I always conduct myself ethically and acted no differently in this circumstance,” Habba told Law&Crime.
On July 28, 2021, Habba approached Bianco while she was serving during her “morning shift on the patio in the clubhouse,” the complaint says. The woman who would soon become Trump’s top attorney allegedly approached Bianco and told her she “had heard” about the allegations against Melichar and wanted to “help her.”
“Bianco had waited on Ms. Habba at the club before, so she knew her,” the lawsuit reads. “She had also seen Ms. Habba sit with Donald Trump at dinner at the club on a number of occasions.”
The lawsuit then alleges that Habba engaged in a heart emoji-fueled charm offensive that began with her encouraging Bianco “to fire her lawyer” by saying, “you know can fire [him] right?” Then, in a text later that day, Habba allegedly shared “a disparaging post” about Bianco’s then-attorney along with the message: “Is this the guy? Be careful.”
“Ms. Habba fomented distrust between [Bianco] and her lawyer, advising Ms. Bianco that she should simply ignore her lawyers’ texts, emails, and calls,” the lawsuit reads. “Ultimately, [Bianco’s] relationship with her attorney was poisoned and she was left with no legal representation, as Ms. Habba wanted.”
Along with those alleged efforts to poison the well, Habba allegedly said she would be “neutral” in the upcoming legal discussions between Bianco and the club over Melichar’s alleged harassment.
On Aug. 5, 2021, the two women allegedly met in Habba’s car in the club parking lot at the attorney’s request, the complaint claims.
An extended section of the filing alleges:
Habba knew all about Plaintiff’s claims and alluded to facts that could be used to publicly embarrass Plaintiff, saying “you don’t want to go public with this, I’ve been raped, I can help you, I can protect you.” Ms. Habba told Plaintiff that “attorneys want to take control from you” and that “with your past- maybe you can get [a paltry sum].” Ms. Habba said that all Ms Bianco would have to do was sign a “simple” NDA and Habba would make sure that Plaintiff was “protected.” There was never any indication that Ms. Habba attempted to negotiate on behalf of Ms. Bianco beyond the original paltry sum that Ms. Habba suggested from the beginning.
On Aug. 11, 2021, the settlement and NDA were signed in Habba’s law office, the complaint says. The amount of the “paltry sum” paid to Bianco is not mentioned in the complaint.
“Habba’s law firm drafted the Agreement,” according to the lawsuit.
Bianco claims Habba instructed her not to have another attorney review the agreement and pressured her to sign off on the settlement without having seen a draft beforehand. Bianco also says she was promised her therapy would be paid for as part of “the deal” with the golf club — but that “never happened.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Bianco would have to forfeit the entire settlement amount if she spoke publicly about the allegations and would be subject to a $1,000-per-day penalty, the filings allege.
The lawsuit alleges that Habba also “lied” to Bianco about the severance package being tax-free, citing the attorney as allegedly saying, “they’ll pay the taxes.” Then, around the end of tax season, Bianco, buoyed by a CPA’s concerns, began worrying about the tax implications and eventually realized she would have to pay income taxes on the settlement. But, the lawsuit says, when Bianco repeatedly tried to ask Habba about the tax situation, the attorney allegedly texted back: “I can’t technically give u legal advice.”
The lawsuit frames Habba’s alleged response to Bianca’s tax concerns in a brutal light.
“What Ms. Habba really meant by saying, ‘I can’t technically give u legal advice’ was that she was now done with [Bianco],” the lawsuit reads. “Habba didn’t need to text heart emojis anymore, she had accomplished her goal of protecting Donald Trump and of silencing Ms. Bianco.”
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Middlesex County Superior Court.
“Alina Habba used the unethical silencing of my client, Ali Bianco, as a way to propel herself into Trump’s inner circle,” Bianco’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, told Patch.com. “Her behavior was predatory. Pretending to be ‘neutral’ when acting on behalf of one party is clearly unethical. Habba knew Bianco had a lawyer but targeted and manipulated her to enter into an agreement favorable to Trump, with an illegal NDA, for a fraction of what a typical settlement would be for these claims. At every stage, Habba violated legal ethics — it’s no wonder she succeeded in impressing Donald Trump, her true client.”
Bianco is pursuing a career as a recording artist.
“I didn’t know my rights,” Bianco told Patch. “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 nondisclosure agreements for victims of sexual harassment. All I knew was that the person claiming to be my friend and adviser threw me in the trash as soon as she pressured me into silence. As an artist, I want my voice back.”
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