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.
- Relax! Merely unpleasant working conditions won't make you a target for bias lawsuits
- Frequent firings may indicate personality conflicts, not bias
- Uniformly enforce blanket 'no-hire' policies
- Telling lecherous manager to stop harassing is protected activity all by itself
- Never automatically fire employees just because they exhaust FMLA leave