In our last post we discussed the disturbing revelation that the Philadelphia police department may have a culture of sexual harassment and coercion of female officers. While none of these claims have been put before the court, the allegations alone from multiple female officers suggest that the situation there is not good for female employees.
The current case being brought by a policewoman who served as an aide to a high ranking officer shows how the power dynamics in the police department may be contributing to a hostile work environment for women.
The allegations detailed in the EEOC complaint show that the woman's boss continually used his authority and the workspace to perpetuate harassment and assault. In one incident, he allegedly began by telling the woman that she was doing well in her role as his aide and then put his hand down her shirt. Despite obvious verbal and physical resistance to the conduct, it continued.
The woman says that on more than one occasion, her boss would request that they leave the office to do some work or attend a meeting offsite and that she grew to fear these excursions. One afternoon while they were on their way to a meeting, he instructed her to pull the car over and then required her to follow him up to an apartment. She said that she was traumatized by what happened in the apartment and had to take time off afterwards.
These incidents show how easy it can be for a superior to take advantage of a workplace power structure to harass and intimidate employees. It's important that employees know their rights and know that they can speak up against this conduct while being protected from retaliation by federal employment law.
For more information about workplace sexual harassment claims in Pennsylvania, visit our employment law firm's website.
Source: Daily News, "Policewoman says she endured years of sexual harassment by internal affairs boss," Barbara Laker & David Gambacorta, August 8, 2012.