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  • Sexual Harassment or Conspiracy?

    Sexual harassment, which is generally defined as unwanted and unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature, is a serious charge with serious consequences.  A victim of sexual harassment may suffer emotional and mental (and even physical) injuries, feelings of humiliation and helplessness, and they may have their reputation for honesty or good character unfairly maligned

    But someone who is accused of sexual harassment also faces serious consequences, including being sued by the alleged victim, being ordered by a court to pay substantial monetary damages to him or her, and potentially the loss of a job.  The process of defending one’s character and good name could be very expensive, as well.  And however a case is resolved, the individual who has been accused of harassment may find it difficult to face their friends and family for fear of what they may think.

    A recent story describes the experience of a police captain in Texas who was accused of sexual harassment and how the situation played out in the legal system, as well as the impact it had on his professional life.

    The man at the center of the story, “Ryan,” was a veteran police officer in the City of Webster, Texas who was promoted to the rank of captain following over 20 years of service. At some point in his tenure, three female employees who worked for or with Ryan came forward with allegations that he had sexually harassed them, which Ryan denied.  However, he was suspended by the police department’s HR department two weeks after they became aware of the allegations.  Ryan was eventually fired, and he was unsuccessful in his attempt to contest his termination through the department’s internal grievance process.

    Claiming he was the victim of a “conspiracy,” Ryan sued the three employees who had lodged the complaints against him, a fellow officer who, according to Ryan, drafted those employees to accuse Ryan of sexual harassment, as well as the police chief, the city manager, and the HR manager, all of whom plotted to have Ryan terminated and “ruin” his career.  Ryan also argued that he was expelled from two professional organizations after the accusations against him were leaked to a non-city employee. Ryan sued that individual and the city as well.

    Ryan sought damages from all nine individuals or entities in his lawsuit, as well as reinstatement of his job. Ultimately, the claims against the city employees were dismissed because of a Texas law that protects city or government employees from lawsuits such as Ryan’s.

    Nevertheless, as the story suggests, a sexual harassment claim could be a personal, professional, and legal nightmare for everyone involved, and in particular for the victim(s) and individual accused of harassment.  If you have been accused of sexual harassment, or are the victim of it, you should contact a sexual harassment lawyer in Orange County right away. An experienced sexual harassment lawyer in Orange County can study the facts of your case and suggest a course of action.  A lawyer who specializes in these types of cases may be able to help you obtain a fair outcome.