MANUEL v. DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION: Ruling Stands

April 8, 2012, by Okorie Okorocha

A panel of appellate court judges have upheld a ruling in favor of the defendant - in this case the Department of Corrections - in a California sexual harassment suit. prisondoors.jpg

Our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers are of course disappointed anytime a victim of sexual harassment is on the losing end of a trial. On the other hand, we realize how difficult these cases can be to prove in court. At our firm, we apply our years of experience in this field when taking on a case. While no attorney can guarantee you a courtroom win, we can promise that our skilled lawyers will scour the details of your case - including phone, financial, computer and witness statements - to ensure you will have the best possible chance.

In this case, Manuel v. Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the situation involved a female prison captain, who had worked at the facility since 1979, and a warden who was appointed to his post in 2005. The captain said she was fired after complaining about the hostile environment she endured as a result of sexual harassment from the new warden.

She sued the state's department of corrections, which ultimately won at trial, and the appeals court has just held that the former captain had not sufficiently proved her case.

According to the complainant, the sexual harassment took place shortly after the warden started. The first incidents began happening at executive staff meetings, when the warden reportedly sat close to the captain, making it so his arm would touch hers and whispering various (non-sexual) comments in her ear.

After that, as part of the warden's vetting process, confidential interviews were conducted with high-level staffers. After the captain's interview, she claims the warden cornered her in a hallway and asked what she had said. While she said he didn't threaten her, she was intimidated by his size.

A few months later, the captain requested the warden's contact information to be used for professional purposes. He reportedly responded that he had a special number for her, and gave her not only his cell number, but also a hotel number.

A few weeks later, he reportedly approached her from behind and placed his hands on her shoulders, and guided her out into the parking lot to talk about a class they were both taking.

The captain said that on multiple occasions, the warden invited her to have alcoholic beverages with him, which she repeatedly declined.

Then late in that year, she said, is when the retaliation began. These included allegations that she had failed to take a drug test and other false allegations, which she says the warden knew were untrue and yet did not stand up to defend her.

She then reported the harassment to the department, and additionally filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

She was ultimately fired.

However, an internal investigation by the prison suggested that she was fired for falsifying documents in relation to a riot that happened among prisoners. The agency claimed there were conflicted statements about what had happened, and the captain's reports didn't accurately reflect the events as they occurred.

However, whether this incident was properly documented should have no bearing on the alleged actions of the warden. It in no way gives him permission to act as he allegedly did.

In the end, the appeals court decided she had not proved that the actions taken against her were the direct result of the harassment she claimed to have suffered.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual harassment in Los Angeles or any of the surrounding areas, it is vital for you to contact an Los Angeles Sexual Harassment attorney. Contact the California Legal Team at (800) 285-1763 to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
MANUEL v. DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION

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LAPD Officers Collect $18 Million in Various Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Suits, May 12, 2011, Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyer Blog