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Safety first if alleged sex offender applies

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

An employer that knows an applicant has been accused of sexual harassment or abuse can use that as grounds for refusing to hire. That’s true even if the applicant was never found criminally guilty or lost a lawsuit based on the allegations.

Simply put, employers may be liable for any subsequent sexual harassment or assault if they hire the applicant, so avoiding that possibility is a good, legal business decision.

Recent case: Joelle Ogletree worked as a French and English high school teacher until she was terminated for allegedly engaging in sexual conduct with male students. Ultimately, she was not criminally convicted.

Ogletree then sued the district, alleging that she had been discriminated against because of her sex. She lost. Then she applied for an open position with the same district, having managed to hang on to her teaching license.

She was rejected; the stated reason was the past allegation of sexual abuse.

She sued again, alleging that the most recent rejection was retaliation for her earlier lawsuit. Plus, she said a male teacher was rehired even though he had been accused of ­hitting a student.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed her case. It reasoned that she was not hired because the district risked being liable if another student alleged sexual assault.

The court also pointed out that the male teacher wasn’t similarly situated. Corporal punishment is legal in schools in Texas, but teacher/student sexual conduct is not. (Ogletree v. Glen Rose Independent School District, No. 11-50170, 5th Cir., 2011)

Final note: Of course, if you refuse to hire sex offenders, make sure you apply that policy evenhandedly. Otherwise, an applicant could argue that another applicant outside his protected class received more favorable treatment.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

JD December 29, 2015 at 2:36 pm

I feel so badly for this woman to be falsely accused like this…why would they do this? Was it a situation where one of them boasted a lie and then it grew out of proportion? Whereas I do believe that teachers should know that they should keep an appropriate distance from their students…sending him notes in code is just ridiculous, it does not justify boys making up such stories and getting their teacher fired! Why would they do it??? Did they not realize the consequences of their actions???

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Joe Newbie December 29, 2015 at 2:07 pm

You’re using the term “sex offender” she was found not guilty and to present her as a guilty person is libel. I think you’re being very dumb posting this and hope she finds this and sues you senseless.

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Kevin Bachler December 29, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Its easy to docunent that Joelle was never found guilty, the state of Texas felt she was wrongly accused and did not take her teaching certificate, one accuser recanted and the other two failed lie detector tests. It’s a sad day when unfounded accusations are allowed to destroy a reputation

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Zach May 21, 2015 at 11:31 am

lacie schneider – I have no idea whether she’s guilty or not, but NEITHER DO YOU. You have no idea what people are capable of behind closed doors.

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lacie schneider January 30, 2015 at 4:13 am

I am a former student of hers and was very close to her. She could never .fo anything like that. Know one should believe a word out of those boys mouths. Iv lived down the street from her house ever since they have lived there. She’s the sweetest, most honest women you’ll ever meet. Love u Mrs. Ogletree.

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