Residents of the Greenbelt, Maryland, area may recall that about six months ago a former Hyattsville police officer filed a sexual harassment lawsuit accusing the police department of systemic sexual harassment. The lawsuit included allegations of sexual assault committed by a ranking officer, as well as a sexually hostile environment within the department. The former officer also charged that she was retaliated against when she complained to her supervisors about the harassment, culminating in her termination.
The woman requested a jury trial and unspecified damages, but it appears that the case was resolved quietly late last month in an out-of-court settlement.
According to the city of Hyattsville, the city did not admit any liability but no additional details were released regarding the settlement.
While sometimes it is best to litigate claims such as sexual harassment, in other cases it may be best for all parties to resolve the claims outside of court. This all depends on the nature of the case and the cooperation of the defendant. In this case, because so little information has been released, it is not known publicly whether the case was resolved fairly.
What we do know is that sexual harassment in any form is illegal under federal employment law. This includes quid pro quo, in which a supervisor or employer actually coerces an employee to engage in sexual relations in order to avoid an adverse employment action, as well as hostile work environments. Hostile work environments are those in which employees are exposed to sexually offensive comments, jokes, emails or other forms of conduct.
In any case, those who have been subjected to sexual harassment have the right to seek legal recourse to hold their employers accountable, obtain damages, and ensure policies are put into place to keep the workplace free of harassment.
Source: Hyattsville Patch, “Hyattsville Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit,” Michael Theis, Dec. 31, 2013
- Our law firm handles cases like the one mentioned here throughout Maryland and Metro Washington, D.C. To learn more about our Sexual Harassment Litigation practice, please visit our website.