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Law school employee files sexual harassment claim against dean

In spite of the increased focus on employees being protected from sexual harassment while on the job, the issue still arises with a troubling regularity in California and across the country. Surprisingly, these incidents even happen in workplaces where the employers should be acquainted with employment law and behaviors that can spark a sexual harassment claim. Regardless, those who believe they have been victimized by sexual harassment at work need to know how to pursue compensation through a legal filing.

The executive assistant for the dean of a prominent California law school has filed a case alleging sexual harassment by her boss. She alleges that beginning in 2014, the man hugged, kissed and touched her in an inappropriate manner. In her lawsuit, the woman says that the man began the unwanted sexual advances not long after he was named dean. She says that it happened almost daily. When she reported the behavior to supervisors, they initially did not intervene and then retaliated against her because she complained about it The 41-year-old woman has filed a case for sexual harassment, for them retaliating against her and other allegations.

In March of 2015, the woman sent an email to the dean regarding the behavior and also forwarded it to the school's human resources department. In July, the dean was found to have violated the school's policy against sexual harassment. As the investigation commenced, the dean admitted that he had committed the alleged acts against this particular woman as well as other employees. He had his salary reduced and was ordered to send an apology letter to the woman, but he was not terminated from his job. The woman says that an official told her that a firing would have ruined the dean's career and they did not want to do that.

Employees have the right to be protected from sexually harassing behaviors at work. In theory, the victim of harassment should be able to inform their employer as to what is happening and have it dealt with in-house. That, unfortunately, did not happen in this case. According to her filing, she was subjected to repeated and aggressive advances from her boss and nothing was done about it until she could no longer accept it and decided to take action with a lawsuit. Those who are in a similar position should take heed an perhaps act more proactively than she did and file a sexual harassment claim earlier to receive compensation.

Source: Washington Post, "Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law sued for sexual harassment," Lindsey Bever, March 9, 2016