Public agencies are not generally assumed to be the site of incidents of sexual harassment. Nevertheless, when such incidents occur in a public setting, the matter usually draws intense public scrutiny. This phenomenon is much more intense when the setting is a public school. Similarly, the agency in question has a very difficult time dealing with the allegations, even if their truth may be questionable. A recent case from Spencer County Kentucky proves the point.
The case involves allegations of sexual harassment levelled against the Public Schools superintendent in Spencer County by a recently hired teacher. The plaintiff has alleged that the defendant began paying her special attention not long after she began teaching in October 2018. The complaint alleges that the superintendent began paying visits to her classroom at least three times a month after she was hired. The plaintiff has alleged that members of the school board were aware of the situation but did nothing to caution the superintendent about his actions. The school board has attempted to defend its lack of action by stating that it told the plaintiff to file a written complaint, but, according to the plaintiff, the board’s handbook of procedures says nothing about such procedures.
Other allegations of improper behavior by the superintendent include number personal telephone calls and harassing text messages. The plaintiff has further alleged that co-workers warned her about the superintendent. One co-worker told the plaintiff that the defendant was after her. In essence, the complaint alleges that the school board failed to “implement prompt and appropriate corrective action.”
The school board may bring a motion for summary judgment in an effort to dismiss the entire case, but such a motion is likely to fail because a number of material facts are in dispute. The case may settle during discovery, but it is very likely that no settlement will be reached until the case is on the threshold of going to trial.
Anyone who has been subject of suspected sexual harassment by a superior or a co-worker may wish to explore bringing a similar action. The assistance of an experienced employment lawyer may be essential to ultimate success. A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate the evidence, suggest legal arguments to support the claims and provide an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a judgment for lost wages, mental anguish and attorneys’ fees.