Employees in Los Angeles spend the majority of their days with their co-workers. It is no surprise that friendships and relationships develop in the workplace when employees spend so much time with each other.

But when a co-worker or supervisor crosses the line by making unwanted advances or demeaning comments and gestures, employees need to understand that they have every right to report the behavior so that employers can immediately resolve the issue. When employers fail to resolve employee complaints, employers could be held liable for promoting a hostile work environment.

According to reports, a new lawsuit has been filed against the Irwindale Police Department for creating a hostile work environment. The lawsuit claims that a high-ranking police lieutenant had sexually harassed a non-sworn police cadet. The police cadet claims that she had initially rejected the lieutenant’s sexual advances when she first started working for the department in 2008. However, the lieutenant kept making advances and treated the police cadet poorly in the workplace until she finally gave in and accepted his advances.

The lawsuit claims that the police cadet finally accepted the lieutenant’s advances because she could no longer handle being treated poorly by the lieutenant in the workplace. When the woman finally gave in to the advances, the lieutenant started to be nicer to the woman while they were at work and he even said that he would make sure the woman received a full-time position with the department. However, he also kissed the woman and groped her while they worked together, the lawsuit states.

When the police cadet was looking for a new place to live, the lieutenant allowed her to rent a condo he owned for a reduced rate. But when the lieutenant discovered that the woman’s boyfriend had been living with her at his condo, he told the police cadet that she needed to find a new place to live. Shortly after discovering that the police cadet was living with her boyfriend, the lieutenant told the police cadet that she should quit her job.

The Irwindale Police Department claims that no wrongdoings were committed by the department regarding the woman’s sexual harassment lawsuit. If the woman can prove that she was forced to work in a hostile work environment, she may be entitled to obtain compensation for lost wages and other damages.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Ex-Irwindale police cadet charges sexual harassment by lieutenant,” Jan. 3, 2013