Residents in California and elsewhere are well aware that they are afforded rights in the work environment. Unfortunately, these rights are not always protected and are sometimes violated by an employer or fellow co-worker. Victims of sexual harassment are protected by the resources and remedies available through the legal process.
A recent lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad officer alleges that she suffered sexual harassment that her supervisors failed to protect her from. The officer that brought the claim asserts that she suffered sexual harassment and stalking from a fellow bomb squad officer. According to the complaint, the fellow bomb squad technician confessed to the victim that he had been in love with her for 6 years and would leave his wife for her; the victim refused his advances and has a domestic partner who also works for the LAPD.
According to the lawsuit, the fellow bomb squad officer began showing up at restaurants where the victim was eating, drove by while she was working, followed her while she was working and began bombarding the victim with text messages, emails and phone calls. During another incident, the woman had to push the fellow officer away when he kissed her. He also grew violent and punched an LAPD truck when she refused to speak to him in the parking lot.
The victim reported her concerns related to the danger the fellow officer presented to supervisors and also provided them with text messages, emails and phone messages from the fellow officer illustrating the sexual harassment. The victim had to rearrange her work schedule to avoid working with the fellow officer but was still required to work with him on at least one other occasion. Months later, the fellow officer was removed from the bomb squad but retained his city-issued car and phone and his gear and equipment were not reassigned. The lawsuit brought by the victim asserts that she suffered a hostile work environment and was discriminated against based on sexual orientation.
It is important for victims who have suffered a hostile work environment to keep in mind that legal protections may be available to them to help keep them free from sexual harassment. There can also be important rules related to bringing a claim against the government so it is also useful to be familiar with those considerations when pursuing a claim when a victim has not been provided with a safe workplace.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "LAPD bomb squad officer sues the city over alleged sexual harassment," Sonali Kohli, March 27, 2017