November 1, 2007
NY Dept. of Correctional Servs. Officer Wins $850,000 for Sexual Harassment
The NY Dept. of Corrections Officer was subjected to sexually offensive language, drawings, etc. by her supervisor at a maximum security prison. Humig v. New York State Dep't of Corr. Servs., N.Y. Div. of Human Rights, No. 7905228 (Oct. 11, 2007). The taunts stemmed from her status as a lesbian and a woman. Due to her sex and her sexual orientation, she was suffered from a hostile work environment and, when she reported the incident, retaliation.
The administrative law judge noted that the harassment was pervasive and that the facts of this case "shocks the conscience" because "Complainant's life was placed in grave danger solely because of her sexual orientation and her gender." Id. Her supervisor went so far as to write derogatory comments about the officer on the shared employee work calendar. Due to the hostile work environment and retaliation suffered when she reported the incident, the officer was awarded $850,000 in compensatory damages.
The facts of this case truly shock the conscience, as the DOJ Officer was subjected to threats and taunts by her supervisor. Not only was she injured by the comments and pervasive remarks, she was also at risk from the male inmates (who might have interpreted the disrespectful behavior as an appropriate way to treat the officer).
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