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Los Angeles police officers settle sexual harassment claim

According to the Los Angeles Times, two Los Angeles Police Department officers, one of whom is now retired, accepted a $1.25 million settlement offer in an effort to avoid a trial concerning the officers' claims that they were sexually harassed repeatedly by a supervisor while on the job.

The women, who were assigned to the Van Nuys Division at the time of the incidents, claimed that a sergeant who supervised them often made sexual suggestions, as well as rude and improper comments to them. The women further claimed that their complaints to senior officials did not lead to any action being taken against the sergeant. However, once the two women filed a lawsuit and the department began an official internal investigation, the sergeant resigned soon thereafter.

Sexual harassment defined

Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace is not so uncommon. According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, sexual harassment has occurred when an individual has been subjected to "unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal of physical conduct of a sexual nature."

To be more specific, the definition includes various forms of sexual harassment, including:

  • Harassment that involves unwanted physical touching or rubbing up against someone
  • Verbal harassment that includes ongoing romantic or sexual comments, or inquiries into an individual's personal affairs
  • Subjecting an individual to viewing offensive drawings, posters or cartoons, or making vulgar gestures

All employers, no matter the industry, are prohibited from harassing their employees in the workplace, and if it is determined that such harassment has taken place, the employer might be held liable, even in certain cases where management was not aware of such harassment.

The obligations of employers to prevent sexual harassment

Employers in California and throughout the United States are legally required to take reasonable precautions to help prevent the occurrence of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Employers can do so in a number of ways. For instance, a poster that discusses sexual harassment must be prominently displayed in the workplace. Additionally, the employer is required to distribute informational pamphlets to its employees regarding sexual harassment, and that information should clearly provide, among other things, the definition of sexual harassment, a discussion of its illegality, examples of sexual harassment and the legal remedies that are available to those who have been harassed.

Individuals who believe that they have been sexually harassed in the workplace would benefit from the assistance of a lawyer with experience in sexual harassment cases. A lawyer can help the individual understand his or her legal options and pursue a just result. Seeking qualified legal advice will help achieve the maximum amount of compensation available for the harassment you have endured.

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