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Sexual harassment in the workplace detailed in city report

Suffering sexual harassment in the workplace is embarrassing and disquieting. Comments of a sexual nature contribute to creating a hostile work environment in which no one in California or anywhere else, for that matter, should be forced to participate.

Often, victims are afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation from the abusive person. They worry that the inappropriate actions and comments directed towards them may somehow be perceived as their own fault. Worse, they worry that any complaint may result in loss of their own job or some other type of retaliation.

In Riverbank, the long-time city manager was fired for sexual harassment and retaliation by the City Council on June 8. Reports detail the complaint of an employee, claiming that the city manager inappropriately touched and rubbed her leg, as well as held her hand. After the city council began its investigation, the woman felt "very uncomfortable" when the manager suggested to her he might be fired. He further lamented he had a wife and family to support.

The city investigation detailed other incidents where the manager made other inappropriate comments of a sexual nature concerning other employees, including references to the size and appearance of a female employee's breasts.

The manager denies the allegations and claims they are overblown mischaracterizations of innocent comments and actions. He also claims that, rather than being fired, he retired on June 30. The city states that, when the manager was fired on June 8, he was paid in excess of $119,000 in severance and accrued leave time.

More than $80,000 was spent by the city in investigating the misconduct allegations.

Claims of sexual harassment in the workplace are serious matters. In addition to job termination of the abuser, victims have the right to sue for the violation of their legal rights. The law in this area may appear complicated and confusing to many, especially to those victims already suffering emotional humiliation from wrongful incidents. An attorney experienced in handling cases involving a hostile work environment may provide some support and assistance as the victim continues to pursue justice.

Source: The Modesto Bee, "Riverbank: Holmer accused of harassment," Kevin Valine, July 20, 2011

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