A lawsuit filed this week alleges that actress Rosario Dawson and her family harassed and attacked a transgender employee at their Los Angeles home in 2018. Dawson’s former handyman Dedrek Finley, 55, alleges that once he came out as trans to the family, their relationship quickly soured. Things ended, Finley says, with Dawson and her mother Isabel restraining and beating him on their lawn.
According to the lawsuit, Finley moved from upstate New York to LA to “renovate and remodel Rosario’s personal residence” in December 2017. The job meant steady work for a while, and Finley moved into a home in North Hollywood owned by the Dawsons. He came out shortly after and asked them to use he/him pronouns. But the suit Finley filed argues “the family misgendered him multiple times each day, with deliberate indifference.” He said Rosario did nothing to intervene and would respond, “You’re a grown woman.”
Finley says Dawson’s teen daughter tried to persuade the family to use proper pronouns but was brushed off. He claims he had cell phone video of one of Isabel Dawson’s verbal attacks, too. In early 2018, Finley says he got a text message demanding he vacate the Dawson home, which he ignored because he considered it discriminatory grounds for eviction.
Then, on April 28, Finley says Rosario’s mother ripped open a screen window, dragged her tenant out a window by the arm, and allegedly began punching him, yelling, “You’re not so much of a man now.”
According to the lawsuit, Finley remembers Rosario Dawson saying, “Mom, stop being petty.” But then the actress “sat down on top of Mr. Finley, actively restraining him while he was on the ground to ensure that her mother could continue battering him,” court documents claim. Finley says Isabel Dawson threatened to kill his cat if he didn’t move out. And he claims the women took his phone, which contained incriminating texts and video, with them when they left.
The entire ordeal is a troubling accusation against an actress who is publicly outspoken about politics, advocates for queer allyship, and supports a number of philanthropies. Dawson is also attached to Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker, a New Jersey senator. (Dawson and her family have not commented on the lawsuit.)
Tasha Alyssa Hill, Finley’s lawyer, told NBC News they had no choice but to sue the family before the statute of limitations on the case expired. “As his attorney, we have reached out numerous times to the Dawson family attorney seeking to resolve this before having to file suit,” Hill said.