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Former officer turns employment law on its head in California

Race discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace abounds throughout California and everyone must be diligent to safeguard their rights. Sexual harassment and racial discrimination can even take the form of a supervisor giving promises in exchange for sexual favors. Or, in some cases, it could be when a supervisor threatens consequences if sexual favors are not provided. In other cases, racial discrimination may present itself as a false accusation of sexual harassment. In fact, harassment and employment law cases can be so complicated that sometimes it's difficult to determine who is the one being discriminated against.

In one San Leandro case, an African American former police officer who was falsely accused of sexual harassment by fellow white officers decided to fight back. Now, this victim of race discrimination will receive a $314,000 settlement from the city of San Leandro in California. The settlement agreement also acknowledged his eligibility to receive disability benefits.

The false sexual harassment claims stemmed from a 2009 filing by multiple female officers who claimed he directed offensive statements toward them regarding breast implants. According to his attorney the sexual harassment lawsuits were exaggerated and false. Indeed, the claims were eventually settled in 2010, and he was cleared of all charges.

The man was the repeated victim of racist comments from fellow employees during his 12-year career in the police department. In fact, when he received a sergeant-level promotion in 2007, white officers taunted him with statements that he only received the recognition because of his race. The statements were followed by derogatory comments that he was "stupid" and "ghetto." The man was consistently harassed by officers who vehemently opposed his promotion.

Typically, failure by an employer to take prompt corrective action leaves many victims of workplace harassment feeling like they are unable to do anything about the situation, but this man did not stand still. As a result, his previously ignored complaints have been heard, and he will now receive a sizable settlement while safeguarding his ability to draw from the disability pension that was awarded to him as a result of his physical inability to continue working as a police officer.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of employment law violations, including quid pro quo sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination, would gain by consulting with a California attorney experienced in these types of cases. The lawyer can help review the facts and circumstances to assess liability and press claims to hold wrongdoers accountable.

Source: The Inside Bay Area, "San Leandro and ex-officer settle race discrimination lawsuit," Chris De Benedetti, Nov. 2, 2011

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