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Merced County official accused of inappropriate behavior

Sexual harassment in the workplace is not tolerated under California law. An official in California's Merced County is expected to be facing at least a reprimand from the Board of Supervisors after an investigation into claims she had created a hostile work environment. The report was released to county administration in July and includes several employee accounts of inappropriate actions and comments by the official.

The report says the official used foul language and made comments of a sexual nature to employees. Further, it detailed how the woman openly discussed her personal sex life in a way that made the employees she supervised feel extremely uncomfortable. The report goes on to say that the California official contributed to a hostile work environment by verbally abusing employees, which could make employees reticent to seek compensation from the county over emotional damages.

Accounts from employees described the official as being a manager who frequently had "screaming outbursts." Additionally, they also claim that she made personnel decisions based on popularity. Statements alleged that on one occasion, after the woman and an employee had an argument; the manger retaliated by cutting her employee's hours. Employees also expressed fear that they would be fired if they did not stay on her good side.

In a written statement, the official claims the investigation was prompted by a disgruntled employee after her annual pay increase was denied because of poor performance. She also said she had to wait more than four months for a copy of the report, and that she did not have enough time to review the allegations and discuss issues she has with the report.

It is vital that charges of sexual harassment in the workplace are taken seriously. The investigators in this case determined that the official did contribute to creating a hostile work environment with her abusive language, disruptive behavior and sexual comments. Working under such conditions is unacceptable. Fortunately, the legal system provides remedies for those who have experienced this kind of treatment.

Source: The Merced Sun-Star, "Report backs claims of bad behavior by Merced County tax collector," Mike North, Nov. 22, 2011

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