Posted – September 10, 2015
Recently, three former and current female officers with the Salt Lake City Police Department filed a federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by a former deputy police chief. The three officers allege that former Salt Lake Deputy Police Chief Rick Findlay sexually harassed them while at work, and that no one they complained to took any action in response. The lawsuit also names the former chief of police, the Salt Lake City Police Department, and the city itself.
The women allege that Findlay stole pictures of them from a phone and sent it to himself, that he made unwanted romantic advances towards them, and that he spread false information about them around the department. They also allege Findlay denied them promotions, or disciplined them for dubious behavior after his advances were rebuffed.
An internal affairs investigation was launched, and Findlay was put on leave, but prior to any action being taken against him, he retired. The suit alleges that the department failed to act even though the internal affairs report was finished for months.
In workplaces of 15 or more employees, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sex, i.e. sexual harassment. In California, this law is codified under the Fair Housing and Employment Act, Government Code, § 12940(j). Any employer with five or more employees is covered by this law.
In California, the following is required in order to bring a claim for sexual harassment against an employer:
- You were an employee of the defendant, or you had applied for a position there;
- You were subjected to unwanted harassing conduct because of your gender;
- That the harassing conduct was so severe, widespread, or persistent that a reasonable man/woman in your circumstances would have considered the work environment to be hostile or abusive;
- You considered the work environment to be hostile or abusive;
- That either a supervisor engaged in the conduct themselves, or, supervisors should have known and failed to take immediate action;
- You suffered harm because of the conduct.
In order to bring a suit against an individual employee in the work place, the requirements are essentially the same.
It is often the case that the harassment is quid pro quo, or, when an individual promises or conditions some type of benefit (e.g. a promotion) on accepting their sexual advances. Or, in the alternative, it occurs when employment decisions are made based on the rejection of the harasser’s advances.
If you believe you have a case against your employer for sexual harrasment, please contact Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case. *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.