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Court case could have implications for Texas employers

A woman claims that she was raped by another worker outside of work. Both the alleged rapist and the victim were workers for the Idaho Department of Corrections. At the time of the incident in August 2011, the man had been on administrative leave for another alleged rape that occurred in July 2011. The IDOC acknowledged to the woman that it knew about his history, and he had three prior complaints prior to the July 2011 incident.

Despite that, he had received no discipline for those prior complaints. A day after reporting the rape, IDOC sent out an email telling others to reach out to the man because he was likely feeling down. When the female employee asked for paid leave as was IDOC policy in extreme or unusual situations, her request was denied. This was the same type of leave that the male employee had been granted after the July 2011 incident.

This lead the woman to resign her position and file a lawsuit against IDOC alleging a hostile working environment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A key legal question was whether treatment of another employee rises to the level of sexual harassment. While her case was initially dismissed by a district court, that decision was vacated by the 9th Circuit and remanded back to the trial court.

Workers who may be victims of sexual harassment may be entitled to compensation and other forms of relief. If a sexual harassment claim leads to a termination or other retaliation, workers may be entitled to back pay and possible punitive damages. A worker may also be entitled to his or her job back. An attorney can look at witness statements or other evidence to determine if an employer engaged in any illegal behavior.

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