California Dept. of Corrections settles sexual harassment lawsuit

Posted in Sexual Harassment on April 19, 2014

Last August, we wrote about a lawsuit that the Department of Justice filed against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a prison cook who had allegedly been sexually harassed by a female coworker for a year or more. Despite numerous complaints, the CDCR allegedly failed to correct the situation or stop the harassment.

Our post from August contains the allegations in greater detail. In short, the male cook began working for the CDCR in 2007. About a year later, a female cook began an escalating pattern of sexual harassment that began with flirting and eventually culminated in unwanted touching and propositioning the man for sex.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the CDCR has agreed to settle the lawsuit, compensate the victim and enact policies to better prevent and respond to sexual harassment in the future.

The plaintiff will be paid $50,000 in damages. Because he used up considerable leave time in an attempt to get away from his harasser, that leave will be restored. Finally, the settlement calls for the CDCR to maintain adequate policies and procedures related to sexual harassment and retaliation. It must also train its employees on the aforementioned procedures and policies.

If left unaddressed, sexual harassment can cause damage that spreads far beyond the victim. Companies and government agencies have a responsibility to respond to complaints and make sure that such behavior is not allowed to continue. This lawsuit is a good reminder of what can happen when these duties are not carried out.

Source: Imperial Valley News, “Justice Department Settles Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Against California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” April 16, 2014