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California county faces harassment lawsuit

Sacramento County in California is facing a lawsuit for allegedly failing to deal with sexual harassment complaints brought against an employee of one of its agencies. According to documents, two former employees of the county's Department of Agriculture and Weights and Measures have filed suit alleging that their supervisor harassed them over a period of several years. The women state that they reported the sexual harassment to management but that their allegations were never properly looked into.

The man accused of harassment is still an employee of the county, and he has declined to comment. Attorneys for the county have issued a strongly worded rebuttal to the suit and state that all interactions between the women and the man in question were consensual.

Workplace sexual harassment complaints in California increased markedly in 2012 from prior years. Unlike the lawsuit in question, most complaints don't end up in litigation. According to legal experts, the majority of employers prefer to settle these matters privately because if a plaintiff wins its case, it may be entitled to attorneys' fees in addition to damages. This can add up to a rather substantial amount, so it leads many employers to do everything they can to keep a case from entering a court room.

Employees have the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment and discrimination. Individuals who have dealt with a hostile work environment may have legal recourse. An attorney with experience in employment matters could advise a client by explaining the rights and options that may be available. Such an attorney may be able to help the client pursue appropriate compensation.

Source: The Modesto Bee, "Public Eye: Sacramento County fights sexual harassment claim", Richard Chang, September 15, 2013

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