When one police officer had the courage to speak out against alleged acts of sexual harassment in her precinct, she claims she was the one who was investigated, according to a BuzzFeed News report. Her story is one that would almost be too wild to be true if we hadn’t witnessed this type of behavior in so many other institutions, businesses, and places of work. The officer said she was new to the New York Police Department when she started getting a lot of friendly attention from one of the higher ranking officers. Friendliness allegedly escalated to unwanted touching and then propositions. For five years, she claimed she endured the behavior, telling anyone in her chain of command she felt safe enough talking to, hoping for change that never came. She said she felt trapped, knowing how aggressively police officers reacted when outsiders are brought in to investigate one of their own. Eventually she cracked and sought help form the department’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, at which point she alleged a very creative form of retaliation began.
The officer said shortly after filing her complaint, she was under investigation for alleged alcohol abuse and ordered to complete a treatment program. She took this accusation to be a direct threat, considering she described her own alcohol use as minimal with only a few drinks a year and a clean record with no complaints. Fighting the accusations only seemed to get her in more trouble though, as she said she was suspended when she refused to complete the program and lost a month of pay. Meanwhile, the officer she accused of harassment was docked 10 vacation days for years of alleged abuse toward her.
The #MeToo movement has exposed a pervasive culture of sexual harassment throughout the country. For decades, women have remained silent about misdeeds in the workplace, largely because they feared retaliation or believed no one would take their claims seriously. It’s no wonder women felt this way when you consider how much inappropriate behavior was allegedly being hidden by the institutions that are supposed to be protecting us.
This case out of the NYPD also exposes a troubling pattern that expands far beyond sexual harassment or police officers or even women in the workplace. It could be discrimination or laundering or fraud — so long as power players are on board, these troubling behaviors can breed in a work environment. When wrongdoings become embedded in company culture, a second layer must form to protect those behaviors. Bonding over misdeeds becomes the currency of friendship and loyalty. Being complicit becomes such a norm that it hardly registers for longtime workers. Soon, those entrenched in the behaviors have to double down to protect themselves, and find themselves punishing whistleblowers far more harshly than those committing the offenses.
This is why it is so important to have one of our Orange County sexual harassment lawyers on your side. Fighting harassment, corruption, and retaliation is simply too risky on your own. It is too easy to get entangled in the bureaucracy that has been put in place over the years, designed to protect those responsible for the toxic work environment. Our skilled attorneys will be able to look at the specifics of your case and determine a game plan that will put you and your rights first.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
NYPD Officer Forced into Rehab After Reporting Sexual Harassment, July 8, 2018, By Lindsay Gibbs, Think Progress
More Blog Entries:
Honoring Officers Who Stand Up Against Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, March 7, 2018, Orange County Employment Lawyers Blog