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Municipal employees aren't immune from sexual harassment

Almost every kid looks up to the heroes of the fire department and police, but these men are not perfect. The city of San Francisco recently settled a case of sexual harassment charges against a commander in the fire department who was demoted before resigning his position.

Sources report that the commander used his position to coerce the complainant into a sexual relationship. Unfortunately, she is far from the only person who has had to deal with such a situation on the job.

A confidential accusation 

The complainant, who was a civilian, did not file a lawsuit or claim with the city. Her accusations will remain confidential, part of her personnel file and not public record. Even so, the Board of Supervisors voted to settle the matter with the complainant for $375,000. She was compensated for “alleged physical personal injury and associated emotional distress.”

The courts protected the complainant’s privacy in this case, and she was able to find a positive outcome. Fortunately, the city took the complaints seriously and tried to deal with them.

Possible victims in any workplace

Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any industry. Although women tend to be more vulnerable than men to sexual harassment, anyone can be a victim. Same-sex harassment is just as illegal as opposite-sex harassment.

Many people do not realize that the target of harassment in the workplace is not the only one who can file a complaint. When a person uses sexually explicit language or creates a sexualized work environment, the target of the harassment is not the only person who is affected by the harassment.

Getting help

California lawmakers are working hard to educate employers and employees about sexual harassment in the workplace, but there is still a lot of work to be done. If you believe you are being harassed at work, you have a right to have the situation addressed to create a better working environment. Sometimes, discussing your situation with a lawyer can help you find confidence when talking to your employer, because you will have clearer information about what behavior is acceptable and what is not. 

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