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'Dog Whisperer' Sued For Being Alcoholic Unfriendly

11/10/2010 10:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

"Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan is not an alcoholic's best friend -- not even close ... according to allegations in a new lawsuit obtained by TMZ.

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The former Executive Director of the Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation claims he took a leave of absence to seek treatment for alcoholism in June, returned to work the next month clean and sober ... only to be stripped of his title and ultimately fired.

Sean Hawkins claims in his lawsuit filed today in L.A. County Superior Court ... it's even worse, because he was assured before he took the leave of absence that his job would be safe.

Hawkins alleges the very first day he returned to work, company big wigs stripped him of his title.  Then a few weeks later he says he was given an ultimatum -- a pay cut or the door.  Hawkins says when he asked for a little time to think about it, he was fired.

Hawkins is suing for unspecified damages.

Cesar's rep could not be reached for comment.


72 COMMENTS

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16.

Fubunki Punkchat    

Being fired for going into rehab is an illegal act for an employer to take. An employer is not allowed to assume that the person in question with an addiction is still addicted to their drug of choice.
"Rewarding alcoholics for alcoholism is not the key to recovery." I don't think Cesar was thinking about rewarding his employee for recovering from alcoholism. I think he was scapegoating his employee to the point where he wasn't allowed back at the workplace and I don't think Cesar was willing to have the employee in question earn back the trust from the workplace. Cesar kicked him out before he had the chance. Cesar used a Dragnet from his own workplace to have the employee humiliated for admitting he is an alcoholic. The employee in question never had a chance.

1256 days ago
17.

XPrettyBulletX>    

Tmz dosent have the full report for us to read,
radaronline.com says:
"The lawsuit asks for Hawkins to be reinstated and for an amount of money to be determined by the court at trial."

To me that sound like he just wants his job back, and the "money to be determined" is just a lawyers way of getting a paycheck..

1256 days ago
18.

JLS    

We have no clue what this man's motivations are in alleging this or what is real and what is imagined. I would be there is some real bad work performance in his past. And he want's money for it.

1256 days ago
19.

Rudy    

This could be a big mistake for Cesar's organization. Under California employment law, alcoholism can be considered a disease and to discharge someone immediately after treatment from this disease could be considered discrimination against a disabled individual. Dumb move.

1256 days ago
20.

george clooney    

You people crack me up....always ME, ME, ME.....#10, David...you must be really important huh? I bet the world bows down to you whenever you say so? lol...pathetic. #8, Kickaboo...whever there is an article about Ceasar, you always say the same thing; you do not like him, he is cruel and you like Victoria....who cares? The rest of you bleeding hearts who think a man who is on the bottle and has a drinking problem is owed anything by an employer have some issues of your own. Especially #5 (for the book you wrote) and your statement: "... you don't put a guy back into the same position that enabled his alcoholism "...are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? So you know for a fact that his job position enabled his alcoholism? Screw all of you people!

1256 days ago
21.

margie    

For those of you who do not like Cesar then maybe you should either not bother reading about him and leaving your comments to yourself or maybe find something you have something good to say ...atleast he did go for a month to get some kind of help AND he was however suppose to have his job when he got out ....when someone is promised to still have thier job when they get out then that promise should be filled and NOT with a pay cut,,, That is when he came back to work then the one who told him he still would have his job should have written up a different contract stating something like Cesar still has his job and NO pay cut will be given as long as he still remained getting help with his alcoholism and never came up dirty. If he could not go by this contract then that is when you tell him we need to let Cesar go. Then they should have let Cesar sign the contract, IF Cesar didn't sign the contract then he would also lose his job right there on the spot. Regardless if he wins or loses when he does sue this guy it should NOT matter to anyone what he does with his money!
I have always liked him no matter what people say, i have watched his shows over and over and if it was not for Cesar there would NOT have even been a show, He was very GOOD to those animals, Not in anyway did i see him treat ANY dogs cruel or mean.
I agree what he did was wrong and he did go where he was suppose to go and you can NOT say one month he won't stay sober...how do i know because my parents were BOTH alcoholics and now that my father has passed away from an anurisum my mother DID STOP DRINKING and once she put that last bottle in the trash without GOING TO ANY classes or for ANY HELP she quit for good and it has been well over 15 years she has been sober and still til this day she cares NOT to have alcohol, So some people CAN DO IT and then there are others who need the extra help because it is harder for them, however this is HIS LIFE, WAS HIS JOB and they had no right firing him like they did and cutting his pay so I DO NOT BLAME CESAR FOR DOING WHAT HE IS DOING...HE HAS HAD A ROUGH LIFE AND REGARDLESS IF HE DONE IT TO HIMSELF HE WORKED HARD TO MAKE A SHOW AND REALLY LOVE THESE DOGS AND TAKE REALLY GOOD CARE OF THEM....FIRST THE FILING FOR DIVORCE THEN THE STUPID things alcohol does to you so you end up having to go for help and now they want to take his job away from him after everything he has been through,, Honestly if this was you ...until you have walked anywheres in his shoes you can not sit by and put someone down ..he is the one who has to live with what he chose in life to do and pay for it for the rest of his life...it just sounds to me that some people need to get a life and stop revolving around Cesars or anyone elses for that matter. Seriously i hope nothing like this ever happens to you...and if it does then maybe you will know how Cesar feels about how his life has turned out and make a 180 degree in his life.

1256 days ago
22.

Joe    

Really, you are an alcoholic and have to go into rehab and are surprised you are not going to get your high paying job back? Take the lower paying job and work your way back. And please whatever you do, do not say you have a disease. People with cancer have a disease, people with diabetes have a disease, people with lupus have a disease. People who are alcoholics and drug addicts have an addiction, not a disease. Until we stop coddling these people we will never see good responses to treatment.

1256 days ago
23.

Pretty LL    

Uh...@21 you realize Cesar's not the one who went to rehab... right?

1256 days ago
24.

Seanw    

david what are you whining about? Just because they did not deal with your doggy-poo in one go and you're all crying like a little baby. Then they throw you an olive branch and ask for another shot at it. And because Milan wasn't the all knowing super human you obviously expected him to be you're all bent out of shape and refuse.

What I wonder about was why did they waste their time trying to help someone who behaves like you do with his dog problem? Probably they thought they could help. With a syndicated show as popular as "Dog Whisperer" it is doubtful they were all hurt and blown away that you didn't want their help. The most likely explanation is that Caesar thought he'd come up with a way to help your situation. From the way you carry on it is pretty likely that your presence on the show was not their prime motivation.

IMO their biggest mistake was calling you back after you refused their help. But genuinely helpful people as well as accomplished professionals do tend to try too hard sometimes. My guess is that your version of the story is missing some relevant parts.

To me the mark of a pro is not whether they fail or not but how they recover from it. If your story is to be believed the fact that Milan, after thinking about or researching your dog's problem quite probably believed he had come up with a solution. If so that is to his credit not yours. The only screwed up behavior I see in your story is yours -- and you're the one telling the story.

Clearly resolving your dog's atrocious habit is not your highest priority or you would not leave that stone unturned.

My guess is that you probably learned that a dog's misbehavior is related to some screwed up behavior in their master that the dog is acting out. My guess is that you don't want to face that and taking it out on Milan is your way of avoiding a good look at yourself.

Frankly the idea that changing your own behavior is the best way to change your dogs behavior is not just a quick fix. It is the best and most responsible sort of long term solution you can get.

1256 days ago
25.

Seanw    

"Especially #5 (for the book you wrote) and your statement: "... you don't put a guy back into the same position that enabled his alcoholism "...are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? So you know for a fact that his job position enabled his alcoholism? Screw all of you people!"

Wow george clooney you just hate everybody. do you have a point of your own or just get off on freaking out at people?

I suppose I could respond and correct the conclusion you jumped to about what I meant. Now that I've seen your reaction I could try rewording it so that it comes across more clearly -- but my guess it that the time would be wasted on someone who does not appear to be here to discuss anything.

1256 days ago
26.

themaestrosgirl    

This is rather off topic..But Cesar's "cruel and inhumane" methods (sarcasm...) saved my dog's life. When everyone turned their backs on us, his method was the only one that worked. And it's not a quick fix. My dog is 15 now, and over the 14 yrs I've had her, there's never been a relapse...Anyway, I'm just here to support Cesar...I'm sure there's more to the story, like poor job performance, and why would this guy not be willing to take the lower paying job, ask for a reevaluation in 6 months when he's regained the company's trust?

1256 days ago
27.

Seanw    

#16 I don't think that Milan's group were trying to reward him. If you study addiction even a tiny bit you'd better understand what I was talking about.

It would be irresponsible of any high profile organization to put someone right back in a top level position after only 1 month of treatment. Nobody has recovered from an alcohol problem after a single month just because they are now returning to work clean and sober. Milan's foundation also has an obligation to it's board not to put someone in a highly responsible position the moment they return from rehab. Their obligations in a situation like this are not only to the previously drunken and now allegedly sober employee.

While the state of California does not support termination on the basis of alcoholism it does not require that the employee be kept in the same position and salary.

My point was that to have done so would have been tantamount to rewarding the alcoholic behavior. You drink, you misbehave, it ruins the lives of all around you, so you are forced to seek recovery.

Any company that just reinstates someone in their former position and at the full salary they previously had would, without some very unusual mitigating factors, be rewarding the alcoholic behavior. That is one of the defining factors of this alleged disease -- avoiding pain and penalty.

"Sure buddy you cost us a bundle, messed up so much that it affected your ability to perform and generally made life difficult for everyone around you. But hey YOU went for rehab and that makes everything better -- here is your old position all dusted off and waiting for you with full pay."

My point is that had the company done that -- it would have been the stupidest most enabling thing the company could have done, And while that would be any alcoholics wet dream it would also have been the most destructive thing also.

Personally I think the reporting is speculative and very likely uninformed. There is no evidence to suggest that Milan has acted wrongfully and until the evidence hits discovery neither side will know the strength of the case. In fact the story itself appears to be written in an attempt to manipulate opinion against Milan. I think a few people here were suckered by the headline alone.

Frankly an alcoholic's best friend is generally the person who does not buy into the self pity game that is so common among addicts. Attend an AA meeting or two sometime and listen to how they talk to each other. It's generally about cutting through the BS, not blaming others, and taking responsibility. I don't see that in the reporting here.

1256 days ago
28.

Seanw    

"I think he was scapegoating his employee to the point where he wasn't allowed back at the workplace and I don't think Cesar was willing to have the employee in question earn back the trust from the workplace. Cesar kicked him out before he had the chance. Cesar used a Dragnet from his own workplace to have the employee humiliated for admitting he is an alcoholic. The employee in question never had a chance."

Do you have any evidence to support this theory?

1256 days ago
29.

Michelle    

just stay calm and assertive....

You can make a dog fearful of you that way, why not your employees.

1256 days ago
30.

lrilely    

no offense to alcoholics, but what is the deal? Is that an automatic excuse now to keep your job? Some kind of immunity you get? Sorry - as an executive if you miss work you will be replaced - regardless of the reason

1256 days ago
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