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Harassment allegations filed against California women's shelter

A woman who worked as the director of a California shelter for victims of domestic violence recently brought a harassment and discrimination lawsuit against her former bosses. A shelter that provides services for women and children in need ought to be the last place to find harassment. However, these allegations show that sexual harassment can occur anywhere.

The African-American director claims that two male board of directors members acted inappropriately over the five years she worked at the charity. She claims both men harassed her verbally and conspired to make her to quit. In addition, one of the men allegedly touched her inappropriately by trying to pull down her shirt so that he could see a tattoo. Other female employees had also complained of similar conduct, but were afraid to report it.

The Director was terminated after filing complaints

When the director filed a grievance she was placed on 90-day administrative leave. She claims this was in direct retaliation for filing the grievance. Following the grievance complaint, she also filed formal complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Employment and Housing Administration. Approximately a year later, she was fired.

The director also brought a claim based on racial discrimination asserting that she was paid less than white managers. It is not uncommon for harassment and discrimination to occur at the same time as appears to have happened in this case.

Harassment and discrimination in the workplace are unacceptable. These insidious practices continue even in the environment of a shelter for victims of domestic violence. Some incidents of harassment or discrimination are obvious, but others such as discriminatory pay can be difficult to uncover. An experienced California employment law attorney can help in determining whether a claim may be available.

Source: Monterey County Herald, "Former women's shelter director alleges sexual harassment," Virginia Hennessey, Jan. 7, 2012

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