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Harassment claim? Dragging feet creates more trouble

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Courts are losing patience with employers that ignore sexual harassment instead of dealing with it right away.

Recent case: When Richmond municipal employee Dean Vigil allegedly sexually harassed a subordinate via vulgar and suggestive text messages, the woman complained. But it took eight months for the city of Richmond to act. It then fired Vigil—who in turn demanded arbitration under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.

An arbitrator reinstated him, concluding the agreement required the city to take action within six months of any alleged wrongdoing. Now the Court of Appeal of California has approved the reinstatement, explaining that employers are responsible for balancing competing workplace rights to avoid liability. (Richmond v. SEIU, No. A127492, Court of Appeal of California, 2010)

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