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Sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Mercer County Sheriff's deputy

A former Sheriff's Deputy with the Mercer County Sheriff's Department has filed a lawsuit claiming he was harassed on the job due to his sexual orientation. The lawsuit claims he was wrongfully terminated because he is gay. The suit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, is seeking $5 million in damages for emotional distress and lost wages that resulted from his wrongful termination.

The former Sheriff's deputy was hired in 2008, and said his time on the job was "hellish." The 33-year-old's lawsuit details several instances of sexual harassment by others at the department, and when he complained about the harassment to upper management they failed to do anything about it. He claims the harassment increased in 2009, and one day arrived at work to find his personal property had been vandalized with derogatory and offensive words written in nail polish.

Further instances of sex discrimination alleged in the suit include being denied training due to his sexual orientation. Other instances include describing offensive and derogatory statements by co-workers in the vicinity of the plaintiff. Another instance described in the suit was more offensive language written on a business card and taped to his work locker. And the harassment continued outside the department with insulting and offensive talk by the California Highway Patrol officers.

After complaining of the harassment to his supervisor, instead of his supervisor following up on his complaints, the employee received a notice of intent-to-terminate from the Sheriff's Department. After making these latest complaints and an investigation was finally started, the plaintiff found his vehicle had been vandalized in retaliation with yet more offensive language.

No one should have to be subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment simply because of their gender, race or sexual orientation. And it is against the law to discriminate or retaliate against an employee for complaining about such harassment. It is unfortunate that some people have to resort to hiring an attorney to ensure their civil rights are not violated, which is what this Sheriff's deputy had to do.

The former deputy, who now lives in the Bay Area, said he is dismayed that some deputies get away with such behavior, and he is disappointed with the unequal treatment of employees within the department and the actions of the entire department in general.

Source: The Modesto Bee, "Ex-Merced deputy sues over sexual harassment because he's gay," Mike North, May 2, 2012

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