Woman's Sexual Harassment of Male Co-Worker Spurs Justice Dep't Discrimination Lawsuit

July 12, 2013 - 7:51 AM

male-female
(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Justice Department is suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for allegedly discriminating against a male cook who says a female co-worker harassed him for more than a year, despite his "numerous complaints to supervisors."

“Employees, regardless of their sex, have the right to work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment,” said Jocelyn Samuels, a deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.  

According to the complaint, Joe Cummings, a cook at the Corrections and Rehabilitation Department, "was subjected to frequent unwanted and unwelcomed sexual advances made towards him by a female co-worker, including frequent profane and suggestive comments and inappropriate touching of his person." The woman's misconduct allegedly escalated in August 2008, when the complaint says "she forced her hand down Cummings’ pants and struck him in the head."   

The Justice Department alleges that Cummings made numerous complaints to his supervisors about the sexual harassment and that CDCR failed to follow its own anti-discrimination policy, in not taking timely steps to end the harassment or discipline the harasser.  

The lawsuit requests that the CDCR be required to implement policies that would prevent its employees from being subjected to sexual harassment. The United States also seeks monetary relief for Cummings to compensate him for the alleged discrimination.

The lawsuit cites Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.

It took a while for the Justice Department get involved in the case:

Cummings originally filed a charge of sex discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which referred the charge to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office investigated the matter, determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that discrimination had occurred, and referred the matter to the Department of Justice.