Calif. Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Announces Sexual Harassment Settlement

According to the Imperial Valley News, the Department of Justice announced this month that it has entered into a settlement agreement that will resolve discrimination allegations against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

A press release from the DOJ indicated that a complaint was filed against the CDCR in July 2013, alleging that a male cook, Joe Cummings, was sexually harassed by a female co-worker, and that CDCR failed to take timely steps both to end the harassment and to remedy it.

The complaint alleged that Cummings’ co-worker made unwanted sexual advances, and lewd and sexually suggestive comments. It also alleged that the co-worker’s improper verbal communications with Cummings escalated over time to unwanted physical contact.

Cummings allegedly complained to CDCR personnel multiple times about the alleged sexual harassment. However, the CDCR reportedly failed to take action to address the issues. It should be noted that both Title VII and CDCR’s own anti-harassment policy require supervisors to prevent sexual harassment and to address complaints of harassment, according to the DOJ press release.

“Sexual harassment in the workplace is simply intolerable,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr., in the release. “Today’s settlement with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation helps ensure continued compliance and furthers our efforts to stamp out employment discrimination.”

Under the terms of the settlement, CDCR must pay Cummings $50,000 in compensatory damages and restore leave that he indicated he used to try to avoid the alleged harasser. It must also maintain appropriate anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies and procedures.

What Are My Legal Options If I Have Been Sexually Harassed at Work?  

Federal laws protect workers from sexual harassment. When an employee reports that he or she is being sexually harassed, the employer has a duty to properly investigate the complaint and take appropriate corrective actions. This should take place immediately.

It should also be noted that employers cannot retaliate against employees for reporting harassment, including unjustly firing, demoting or withholding pay or benefits from an employee.

If you are being sexually harassed at work, take action. Know that you are not alone—we are on your side. Call our office today to schedule a consultation at (310) 273-3180.

Kesluk, Silverstein & JacobLos Angeles employment attorneys