‘Disrespect’ Does Not Equal ‘Hostile Work Environment’

Keith Armstrong, who is African-American, was a Jersey City police officer. Armstrong had no serious complaints with the Department or his supervisors until the internal affairs unit of the Department began investigating difficulties he was having with his neighbors. From 1996 to 2006, the Department had received 28 complaints from citizens about Armstrong. Most of […]

Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment Case Against Sheriff Heading To Trial

Toni Duncan, a corrections deputy for Dakota County, Nebraska, sued the County for hostile work environment sexual harassment. The County sought summary judgment in the case, arguing that Duncan’s evidence was insufficient to allow the case to go to trial. In opposing summary judgment, Duncan testified that rumors of sexual activity permeated the job. She […]

Court Allows Hostile Work Environment Claim To Proceed

In the wake of a series of Supreme Court decisions tightening up the standard as to what amounts to racial or sexual harassment, it has been more and more difficult for public safety officers to successfully bring harassment claims. And so it was a bit of a surprise to see one of the more conservative […]

Firefighter Gay Pride Verdict Upheld

The annual San Diego Pride Parade is a celebration of the local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities. Four members of the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department – John Ghiotto, Chad Allison, Jason Hewitt and Alexander Kane – were given a direct order to participate in the Pride Parade against their will. After being […]

Corrections Officer Successfully States Sexual Harassment Claim

Owing chiefly to several decisions of the United States Supreme Court, it has become extremely difficult for employees to successfully bring sexual harassment lawsuits. Recent estimates are that employees lose approximately 95% of sexual harassment claims brought in federal court. These results are largely the product of case law that requires harassing conduct to be […]

‘Crazy Woman with a Gun’ Does Not Have Sexual Harassment Claim

Tammy Schweitzer was an investigator with the Ventura County, California District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation. Eleven months into the job, Schweitzer resigned and sued the County, claiming she was the victim of sexual harassment (among other things). When a trial court ruled in the County’s favor and dismissed Schweitzer’s lawsuit, the case wound up […]

Victims Not Entitled To Union Representation During Meeting

Melissa Forsette and Jill Foley are police officers with the City of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Their labor organization, Lodge 2 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), filed a grievance on their behalf alleging a hostile work environment. In particular, the FOP alleged that the Police Chief had referred to Forsette and Foley as being “whores” […]

Reference To ‘Psycho-Bitch’ Can Support Claim For Sexual Harassment

Gina DiPasquale was a corrections officer with the State of New Jersey Department of Corrections. In 2001, DiPasquale became a permanent instructor in the Correctional Staff Training Academy. In January 2002, female recruits complained to DiPasquale that male instructors embarrassed, bullied and demeaned them because they could not keep up in physical training sessions. DiPasquale […]

Sexual Harassment Too Old To Be ‘Continuing’

Genevieve Drees has served both as a dispatcher and a detention employee for Suffolk County, New York. Drees brought a sex discrimination lawsuit against the County, contending that she was the victim of gender-based hostile work environment harassment, and that she had been retaliated against for raising a harassment issue. A federal court dismissed the […]

Court Reinstates Sergeant’s Demotion

A clear example of a difference between appealing discipline through a civil service system and appealing discipline through arbitration can be found in a recent case involving Santa Cruz County, California. When discipline is appealed through arbitration, court review is extremely limited, and typically focusing only on whether the arbitrator exceeded his or her jurisdiction […]

Firefighter Case Illustrates High Standards For Harassment Complaints

The high bar set by the burden of proof for racial and sexual harassment claims is one of the reasons that most harassment lawsuits fail. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, to make a claim of racial harassment, an employee must show that the harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the […]

Conduct That Is “Juvenile And Boorish” Does Not Amount To A Hostile Work Environment

Not a month goes by without the release of several new court decisions emphasizing the changed rules under which federal courts evaluate sexual harassment cases. Owing largely to two Supreme Court decisions, courts now routinely reject sexual harassment lawsuits that ten years ago might well have been the basis for holding employers liable for considerable […]