The police are entrusted by the public to uphold the rule of law. However, the police are also subject to the law of the land and can also face applicable punishment and consequences if they end up breaking the law. Unfortunately, one police chief in California is being accused of breaking employment laws in a recent sexual harassment and wrongful termination complaint filed by a former dispatcher.
Along with the police chief, the former dispatcher also named the police department and the city government as defendants in the lawsuit. However, most allegations brought forth in the lawsuit pertain to the police chief. The police chief, the city attorney and the city manager have all strongly denied the allegations in the lawsuit.
The female dispatcher claims that the police chief had made sexually explicit comments following the termination of her husband, who was a police officer that had testified against police department officials during a separate lawsuit in 2008. Court documents filed by the plaintiff describe various situations in which the police chief stood physically close to the plaintiff and made comments which could be construed as sexual in nature. The dispatcher attempted to report the incidents, but this did not produce any results.
Eventually, the woman was terminated after suffering what the lawsuit claimed was emotional distress after dealing with a challenging call. The complaint claims that the police chief used her symptoms of emotional distress as a reason to terminate her rather than allow her to seek psychological treatment. Now, the plaintiff will have to back up her allegations of sexual harassment and wrongful termination in front of a judge. Knowledge of applicable California employment law as well as being able to apply it to evidence presented in the case will give her the best chance of prevailing.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Ex-Newport Beach dispatcher claims sexual harassment by chief in suit,” Jill Cowan, May 3, 2013