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DOJ sues California prisons in sexual harassment case

On Behalf of | Jul 20, 2013 | Sexual Harassment

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), alleging sexual harassment of a male cook by a former co-worker.

According to the lawsuit, a female CDCR employee subjected the man to frequent unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances for over a year. These included profane and suggestive comments and inappropriate touching, which escalated in August 2008 when she forced her hand down his pants and struck him in the head. The woman was placed on administrative leave for unrelated reasons in October 2009.

The case came to the attention of the DOJ when the employee filed a charge of sex discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. That department referred the charge to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office investigated the matter, and, believing the employee’s claims of discrimination, referred the matter to the DOJ. The actions alleged violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.

The government contends that the cook complained multiple times to his supervisors about the harassment, but they failed to discipline the woman or stop the harassment — ignoring the CDCR’s own anti-discrimination policy. That policy requires CDCR supervisors to address allegations of sexual harassment as soon as they become aware of them.

The U.S. District Court is asking the CDCR to develop and implement policies that would prevent their employees from being subjected to sexual harassment. It is also seeking monetary compensation for the cook.

As an assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ noted, employees, have the right to a workplace that is free from sexual harassment. Because the employee worked for a government entity, this case is being handled by the DOJ. However, anyone who has experienced any kind of harassment or discrimination on the job should report it immediately. If it is not addressed by the company’s management, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in workplace discrimination cases. This is the only way that some businesses will take action to protect their employees.

Source: Arizona Daily Independent, “Sex discrimination suit filed against California prisons” No author given, Jul. 13, 2013

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