Judge Denies Rohan Marley’s Motion To Have Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Thrown Out

Rohan Marley, Chloe Villano

A federal judge in California has mostly rejected Rohan Marley‘s effort to dismiss an $18 million sexual harassment lawsuit against him.

Chloe Villano, 34, a former employee, sued Marley and his company, Shashamane Group, last year June, alleging quid pro quo sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, and wrongful termination. In August 2023, Marley filed a motion to dismiss the allegations.

Last month, Judge Otis D. Wright II ruled that Villano’s harassment and hostile work environment claims, under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), could go to trial, but he dismissed the wrongful termination claim since the firing decision was made outside California.

According to an 18-page court order obtained by DancehallMag, the judge also refused Marley’s request to move the case to Florida, where he resides.

Rohan, 51, is the fourth son of Reggae legend Bob Marley. His mother is Janet Hunt.

In a statement issued on Tuesday (February 13) — one day before the Bob Marley: One Love movie hit theatres — Villano took the opportunity to speak out on the case.

“I have experienced significant personal and professional losses due to the abuse, harassment, and discrimination I suffered at the hands of Rohan Marley and his associates,” she reportedly said.

“This legal battle is not just about one woman’s struggle but reflects a broader issue of women’s treatment in the workplace, especially in male-dominated industries. In the upcoming trial, I seek justice for myself but this case also represents a stand against the mistreatment of women in the workplace.”

A jury trial in the matter is set for March 25, 2025, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The judge’s order on the motion to dismiss, handed down on January 3, 2024, allows Villano to proceed with discovery, including depositions of Marley and his Shashamane associates.

She’s seeking at least $6.25 million for each of the remaining claims, plus additional punitive damages and attorney fees.

Last year, Rohan had accused Villano of using the lawsuit to “exploit” the Marley name.

“This lawsuit is without merit and I intend to vigorously defend myself in court. I will not let any person take advantage of me and exploit my family’s name,” he had said in a statement.

“The allegation that Chloe Villano was terminated for any illegal reason could not be further from the truth. We are confident Ms. Villano’s claims will be dismissed out of California and, most importantly, will be dismissed on the merits due to of the wealth of evidence we possess demonstrating Ms. Villano’s desire to continue working with me months after she voluntarily resigned in writing as our Company’s CEO,” his statement continued.

Chloe Villano, Rohan Marley

Marley and Villano agree in court filings that they first met at the Cannabis Business Awards in 2019, but not much else.

She said she joined the Lion Order cannabis brand — a joint venture between Marley, his sons, a retired football player, and “long-time buddies under Shashamane — in March 2021, with a promised 10% equity stake in the company after two years of work as its CEO.

However, Villano claimed that during her employment, Marley demanded her sexual exclusivity and that “he be allowed to impregnate” her in exchange for her stake in the company.

She alleged that on multiple occasions, “the boys” were praised, while she “was treated horribly and was constantly disrespected in front of all the boys.”

“Rohan Marley was verbally abusive and denigrating to Plaintiff on a constant basis and spoke disrespectfully to her in meetings…  When Plaintiff pushed back on the sexist and disrespectful statements and the hostile work environment created by Defendant Marley, he told her in front of others, ‘I can speak to you this way because I am f-cking you,’” her suit noted.

At another point, Villano claimed that as her “supervisor” Rohan would randomly call her and say: “are you f-cking anybody? Because if you are, you’re going to f-ck this up for yourself”. 

In citing what she said was the disrespect and misogyny exhibited by Rohan, and the hostile work environment he created, the other members of Shashamane, including General Counsel/COO, John Zidziunas, “devalued her work, attempted to give credit for her hard work to its male members, and conspired to terminate” her before her equity in the Company could vest.

It said Villano objected to being singled out for termination/divestiture on the basis of her gender but that “shockingly” Marley presented her with “a classic quid pro quo proposition” that he would intervene on her behalf and extend his protection if she promised not to have sex with any other men.

“On or about March 21, 2022, Defendant Marley warned Plaintiff that if she was having sex with any other men, it would “f-ck things up” for her at the company. Plaintiff refused to confirm to Defendant Marley in this conversation that she would accede to his Neanderthalic demands. The very next day, Defendants formally severed Plaintiff’s employment with Defendant Shashamane,” the suit said.

It added that “on or about December 21, 2021, Villano had a conversation with Rohan, “after he had announced that he was having a new baby (which Plaintiff understood to be his fourth baby with different women in a span of approximately one or two years) and Plaintiff told him that she was ‘not a concubine.’”

“Plaintiff told Defendant Marley that she respected him, but she wanted to find true love and she was an honest and very hard-working employee,” it stated.

In their formal response to the lawsuit, filed on January 17, 2024, Marley and his company denied all of Villano’s allegations.

They had argued that Villano, despite her “touted credentials” in the cannabis industry, failed to perform her duties as Shashamane’s CEO, which led to disruptions in business operations and her eventual resignation.  

“She disrupted business, repeatedly lied, produced zero results for the company, tried to save face by resigning under the pretense that she “never wanted” to be the CEO, and then refused to civilly engage with Shashamane’s members or continue providing service of any services to the company,” they claimed. “As a result, the Management Board terminated her membership.”

They continued: “Unable to acknowledge her failure, [Villano] now seeks to leverage flirtatious and sexual telephone communications she willfully and consensually initiated with Mr. Marley—including communications where she sent him nudes and asked about his interest in having a baby with her—into claims of sexual harassment and retaliation.”

Marley, a former college football player, was first married to Geraldine Khawly, with whom he shares two children.   They divorced in 1996.

He shared a relationship with singer Lauryn Hill between 1996 and 2009.  They had five children together.

In 2019, Rohan married Brazilian model Barbara Fialho. They reportedly divorced in 2020, but share one child.