Alleged Kentucky Sexual Harassment Incident Included in Police Officer's Lawsuit

August 2, 2012

An ex-employee of the Hyattsville Police Department in Maryland has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the city of Hyattsville. She joined the force in 2005 when she was 21 and stayed until she was allegedly forced to retire in 2009.

According to the lawsuit, the female police officer was frequently the victim of sexual harassment from her supervisors and coworkers while on the job. Perhaps the worst incident allegedly occurred in 2007 in Louisville, Kentucky. The officer was invited by her superior officer to attend a Fraternal Order of Police Conference there. During the conference, the suit claims that the superior officer took her into a men's restroom and forced her to touch his crotch. Then later that night he allegedly came into her hotel room, climbed on top of her and tried to have sex with her. The female officer's roommate allegedly helped to get him off of her. The female officer claims that nothing was done when she reported the incident and that she was even assigned to the offending officer's squad after it happened. The city of Hyattsville disagrees with her claim, stating disciplinary action was taken against the superior officer, but they did not provide any details.

The female officer said the repeated sexual harassment and hostile work environment forced her to go on short-term disability because she suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome. The suit also claims that she was retaliated against after reporting the harassment and she was eventually forced to retire and relocate in 2009.

Her lawsuit seeks an unknown amount of damages. The damages would cover her lost wages and benefits as a result of supposedly being forced to retire early. They would also compensate her for any mental or emotional distress incurred because of the harassment and retaliation. If a jury would rule in her favor, the police department would likely have to provide training to all personnel regarding avoiding sexual harassment in the workplace, and how to handle sexual harassment complaints when they occur. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) goal is not only to obtain justice for those who have been mistreated, but also to prevent that type of behavior in the future, so training and supervision from an outside party is frequently part of the award or settlement in this type of case.

While sexual harassment can happen anywhere, it is perhaps more frequent in places where one gender largely outnumbers the other. Females may face more harassment in a male-dominated workplace, and vice-versa. When the majority of your co-workers and supervisors are of the opposite sex, the thought of complaining about inappropriate behavior can be frightening. But regardless of the male-female ratio, no one should have to work in an environment that is uncomfortable, degrading, or threatening. If you find yourself in this situation, you should contact a Kentucky sexual harassment attorney at the law firm of Miller & Falkner.

Sources:

City seeks sexual harassment suit dismissal; Hyattsville Patch; Michael Theis; July 30, 2012

Former Hyattsville cop sues city over sexual harassment; The Washington Examiner; Aubrey Whelan; July 11, 2012

Former Hyattsville officer alleges sexual harassment by colleagues; Gazette.net; Daniel Gross; July 26, 2012