Sexual Harassment Claims Against California Elected Official

A California elected official faces charges of sexual discrimination after an independent review has substantiated sexual harassment claims made against her by former employees. The Merced County tax collector and registrar of voters has been the subject of complaints regarding sexual harassment. The local county board will determine the fate of the accused official, though it is constrained by the fact that the woman is an elected official.

There are two issues on the upcoming Merced County board meeting regarding the sex discrimination matter. Some wish to have the tax collector removed from her duties, while others request official public censure. Because the tax collector and registrar of voters is both an elected official and an appointed one, both punishments may apply, though the board does not have the power to remove an elected official from her elected position.

In 2008, the Merced County Board censured the county auditor for inappropriately responding to employees’ sexual harassment complaints. In that case the official was publicly reprimanded but remained in office.

In the current case, the charges have been substantiated by an independent investigation. Beyond the issues of her elected position and what the county can do about it, the sexual harassment victims appear to have legal basis to pursue claims against the woman and perhaps against the governmental authority as well. For the courageous people who choose to stand up to unwanted workplace sexual advances, California and federal law provide the right for them to seek monetary damages and other relief for the wrongful conduct.

Source: Modesto Bee, “Claim of sexual harassment by Merced County official validated,” Mike North, Nov. 21, 2011

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