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Police commissioner, city sued for harassment

The workplace is supposed to be a safe environment for all workers. In addition to avoidance of physical harm, employers must ensure that employees are not discriminated against based on race, gender, disability, or age. Also, sexual harassment must be prevented at all costs. When sexual harassment does occur, the employee subject to such acts can take action against her employer. A recent incident at a police department serves as an example, one which Colorado employees should be aware.

There, a female police officer filed a federal lawsuit against several officers, including the police commissioner, and the city where she works, claiming she was subject to sexual harassment, unwanted sexual advances, and discrimination. According to the lawsuit, a lieutenant made sexual comments to her, ordered her to perform sexual acts, and asked her to take nude pictures of herself and other female officers in the women's locker room.

The victim claims that her request for a transfer and her speaking out about the harassment resulted in her being denied opportunities for advanced training and promotion that would further her career. As result, the lawsuit states, the victim suffered emotional and economic injuries for which she seeks compensation.

When sexual harassment occurs in private employment in Colorado, the victim has 300 days to report the incident to the Colorado Civil Rights division or the EEOC. Once a filing is made, the victim may choose, depending on the facts of the case, to mediate the issue with the employer, go through administrative proceedings, or file a lawsuit in state or federal court. Through these processes, the victim may seek to obtain compensation for emotional harm and wages that may have been lost due to being passed over for promotions.

Sexual harassment and employment discrimination claims are fraught with complex facts and legal issues. An experienced employment law attorney can help a victim understand the process and develop a legal strategy that works in her best interest.

Source: The Journal News, "White Plains officer claims bosses harassed her in lawsuit," Erik Shilling and Richard Liebson, Aug. 17, 2013

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