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Can a sexual harassment lawsuit be kept from the public records?

Many of our Colorado readers probably know that most court proceedings are open to the public. This means that in all different kinds of cases, whether criminal or civil in nature, any member of the public could simply walk into the courtroom and observe. That is why it is so unusual for a party in any type of lawsuit to request confidentiality. In a sexual harassment lawsuit based on alleged actions in a casino, a judge was recently weighing just such a request.

According to the reports, the casino in question, which employed the plaintiff who filed the sexual harassment lawsuit, has asked the judge to seal the records of the lawsuit from public view. If the request is granted, the reports note that many experts believe it would be an unorthodox move by the court.

The case began because a former employee of the casino, a female employed in a managerial role, accused two other managers at the hotel of various violations of employment law of a sexual nature. The violations include allegations that one manager, a male, repeatedly made sexually charged remarks to employees. The former employee also alleges that another manager, a female, gave preference to other employees with whom she had engaged in sexual conduct.

It is easy to see why an employer would want the records of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee to be kept from public view - after all, who wants to work for an employer who allows illegal and discriminatory behavior in the workplace? But there has to be a very good reason for sealing records in any type of court case, and it doesn't appear that the employer will be able to demonstrate such extenuating circumstances. However, the judge has yet to rule on the request.

Source: Omaha.com, "Iowa casino in sexual harassment lawsuit wants closed hearing," Nov. 22, 2013

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