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Pair of former California government employees sue

Two women who formerly worked as inspection aides at the Department of Agriculture and Weights and Measures are suing Sacramento County. The women say that they suffered years of sexual harassment at the hands of their supervisor. They also claim that they both made formal complaints to their managers but that nobody ever followed up on their accusations in a satisfactory manner.

The plaintiffs say that the male supervisor even harassed one of the women during the course of a sexual harassment training program. County attorneys say that the charges are false, additionally claiming that the defendant and the plaintiffs engaged in consensual interactions. The man still holds his position at the agency.

Although California has strict sexual harassment legislation, complaints have increased in recent years; the annual rate doubled in 2012 alone. Some experts postulate that this may be a result of the introduction of Internet filing with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. This trend contrasts with the nationally observed decrease in complaints, which may simply be a result of many firms internalizing their complaint settlements. Legal analysts note that the majority of California's discrimination and sexual harassment disputes are settled out of court.

Sexual harassment can make the mere act of going to work unbearable for victims. The dread of being in an environment where abuse runs rampant and the high likelihood that reports may be ignored can effectively silence victims, forcing them to deal with things alone or live in fear of repercussions if they do complain. Workplace discrimination attorneys who can file complaints and take actions that prompt official investigations may be able to help victims take advantage of their right to legal protection.

Source: The Modesto Bee, "Public Eye: Sacramento County fights sexual harassment claim", Richard Chang, September 15, 2013

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