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Woman cop files sexual harassment suit against employing city

It seems that cases claiming sexual power-plays in the workplace never cease and do not decline. In one lawsuit filed in a federal court in another state, a female cop claims that she was sexually harassed and retaliated against by her supervising officer. Although the case is not in Florida, a sexual harassment claim based on federal law will follow the same principles regardless of the federal district involved.

The African-American woman claims that her superior officer invited her to his home when his wife was away, made sexual advances and spoke about her body. Once he suggestively massaged her shoulders. He also asked her if she didn't like white men. After he ran his hands suggestively across her back on one occasion, saying he was checking for a bulletproof vest, she made an official complaint.

However, her departmental complaint resulted in a strange twist: the employer, which was the NYPD, sent her instead for a psychological evaluation for anxiety. The evaluation revealed drinking to drown the stress, and she was told to go to an alcoholic rehab program, which she refused. That led to her suspension for 30 days.

When an individual complains about sexual harassment, the employer must make a timely, full investigation and take corrective action, if appropriate. If the employer instead responds with retaliatory action against the complainant, a valid claim for damages for retaliation will exist. The allegations here indicate retaliation but the facts will be decided by the court or a jury. It appears also that some investigation occurred because the accused lieutenant was reportedly docked 10 vacation days and ordered to attend a 'professionalism in the workplace' seminar.

However, the man steadfastly denies the harassment, which indicates that, if the charges are confirmed, one seminar was entirely inadequate to correct the situation. If the woman's claim is true that seven other female police officers had similar problems with the man, that would be powerful proof to bolster her credibility. These are a few of the issues that can arise in a Florida sexual harassment case. To determine a more precise evaluation of your legal rights and options, it would be highly beneficial to obtain a consultation with an employment law practitioner.

Source: New York Daily News, "'Terribly abused' female police officer files sexual harassment lawsuit against lieutenant," John Marzulli, June 17, 2013

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