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Hostile work environment can occur in government

Scores of California employees suffer from sexual harassment in their workplaces. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious legal problem. Workers should not have to tolerate inappropriate actions and comments from others on their job sites. Even government administrators can be accused of sexual harassment.

An administrator in nearby Hatch, New Mexico, is accused of sexual harassment and fraud. The clerk administrator was put on paid leave after the allegations came to light. He will likely not return to work until an investigation into the matter is complete.

The man is accused of harassing an employee at the Motor Vehicle Department. The woman was hired by the defendant to manage the office. That woman has also been placed on paid leave. The Hatch MVD office is now unable to perform certain inspections because the woman has been temporarily removed from work. A complaint was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A lawsuit has not formally been filed in the case. The EEOC has not commented, as it only addresses claims after lawsuits have been filed.

News reports show that very little information is available about the alleged harassment. Local police conducted an investigation. Their report has not been made public. New Mexico State Police are also helping with the investigation.

This is not the first time that the administrator has been in legal hot water. He was censured in 2007 by county leaders after he misused employee time in violation of employment law. He also was accused of spending county money on campaign materials.

Employees deserve to work in a safe environment for their mental and physical health. People who perpetrate sexual harassment are creating a hostile work environment. Those offenders should be punished.

Source: LaCruces Sun-News, "Hatch administrator placed on leave due to sexual harassment, fraud report" James Staley, Jan. 27, 2014

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