In December of 2017, a Missouri Department of Corrections employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Corrections. The suit alleges that male employees called her vulgar names, made inappropriate comments about her body, and asked for sex on numerous occasions.
The plaintiff, Jennifer LeFleur alleges that the behavior continued both before and after she was transferred from the Oak Grove facility to the Kansas City Reentry Center.
Lawsuits alleging sexual and racial discrimination are nothing new to the Missouri Department of Corrections. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the department, many of which were settled out of court. In one 2016 lawsuit, the jury awarded the defendants $3 million dollars in damages.
In an official statement, a spokesperson for the Missouri DoC said that it would not comment on pending litigation, but that measures have been taken to properly train employees and supervisors on the proper candor and conduct for dealing with female employees in a workplace environment.
Female Employees Allege that Complaints Were Ignored
The reason why this lawsuit is so likely to turn a favorable settlement for the plaintiff is due in large part to the fact that she reported the misconduct and it was ignored. In order for a plaintiff to file a sexual harassment claim against their employer, they must be able to prove that the employer’s inaction created a hostile work environment.
In this case, there does not appear to be much doubt. Ms. LeFleur did indeed complain to her supervisors concerning conduct that can only be described as repulsive. Not only was she addressed using the c-word, but a male employee commented on her breasts remarking that she appeared “yummy.” Another male co-worker offered to pay for a seven-day cruise if she agreed to “have sex with him the whole time.”
If true, that behavior certainly rises to the standard of sexual harassment in the workplace. If supervisors knew about the behavior and did nothing to curb the unwanted advances, they can be found to have created a hostile work environment.
Investigation Reveals Culture of Sexual Harassment at Missouri DoC
An investigation published by The Pitch revealed a culture of sexual harassment plagues the Missouri DoC. Most of these cases ended up being settled quickly on the condition that the department did not have to admit guilt, and female employees who filed suits did not talk about it.
Far from solving the problem, this merely allowed it to fester. With the department facing more lawsuits, and taxpayers footing the bill for the settlements, the problem does not appear to be getting any better.
Since 2004, the DoC has settled over 60 lawsuits, paying out an almost uncountable number in damages. With yet another lawsuit pending, that number will increase.
Have You Been the Victim of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
If so, you are entitled to damages. Employees are not forced to endure the ignorant and vulgar behavior of fellow employees. If management does not do anything to curb the behavior, your last recourse is legal action. Call HKM Employment Attorneys of Kansas City at 816.607.4691 and we will begin discussing your case today.