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Employees California county Over sexual harassment

Two San Joaquin County employees have filed a lawsuit against the county, claiming a colleague was allowed to repeatedly sexually harass them while supervisors did nothing. The suit also alleges the employees were retaliated against when they complained of the harassment.

The female employees contend a former male co-worker, who was a county substance abuse counselor, made sexual comments and simulated sex acts on office furniture. The women claim the county knew of previous complaints against the male employee, but did not take their concerns seriously. According to the lawsuit, when one of the women told a supervisor about her colleague's offensive behavior, the supervisor just laughed it off.

The suit claims the male substance abuse counselor told other employees he was "untouchable," noting he had influential family and friends who worked in county government. It also charges that one of the female employees was given a heavier workload and passed up for a promotion she was qualified for in retaliation for her complaints of sexual harassment. The female employees seek changes in county policy, damages and payment of lost wages. An attorney representing San Joaquin County said that the alleged incidents of sexual harassment had been investigated and appropriate action was taken. She said the county will "vigorously" defend itself against the allegations in court.

Sexual harassment in the workplace refers to any unsolicited, unwelcomed comments and behaviors that are sexual in nature. An attorney experienced in workplace harassment issues can protect an employee's rights against both those who sexually harass them and employers that allow it to happen. As in this case, a sexual harassment lawsuit can seek financial compensation for damages and lost wages of employees who are victimized. It can also ensure that new policies are enacted at the workplace that protect current and future employees.

Source: Recordnet.com, "Workers sue, allege sexual harassment was allowed", Zachary K. Johnson, September 27, 2014

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