When it rains, it pours. Recently, 11 Los Angeles police officers filed discrimination and harassment suits against Savannah Police Chief Michael Berkow, who came to Georgia dogged by a sexual harassment suit from his tenure at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
Savannah officials support Berkow, pointing to a significant reduction in crime since his appointment. Berkow admitted in court that he carried on an illicit affair with a subordinate at the LAPD, which prompted the initial lawsuit. But he defended his conduct as private because the affair took place off-site when he was off duty.
Our take: Off-duty conduct is no excuse. What counts is the relationship between the harasser and the victim, not where the conduct occurred. Employers don’t get a pass just because a manager made the pass off duty and off premises.
- Illegal firing can cancel terms of noncompete pact
- Protect against retaliation suits by conducting independent and 'blind' internal investigations
- Don't fear legit discipline after employee complains
- Simple hearsay about harassment doesn't create hostile environment
- Avoid needless reference to culture differences