Sexual harassment disaster at state disaster agency

On behalf of Fox & Fox, S.C.

As regular readers of our Milwaukee employment blog know, our nation is paying more attention to sexual harassment in the workplace than ever before. We read recently of an ongoing scandal not far from us.

A state agency that is supposed to help residents in times of disaster is itself something of a disaster. A high-ranking official at Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security has been accused of sexual harassment and retaliation and an official who reported the misconduct is claims he was fired for doing the right thing.

The former Assistant Fire Marshal for the State of Indiana reported the allegations last year and has now filed a federal lawsuit in which he has asked the court to reinstate him to the position. The firefighter says in his seven-page suit that he was “intentionally terminated . . . in retaliation for reporting sex harassment” in March of last year.

Female employees reported sexual harassment by a supervisor to Robert Johnson, who then took the claims to his supervisor, Fire Marshal Jim Greeson. In his lawsuit, Johnson alleges that “The fire marshal did nothing with the information.” Greeson did not launch an investigation of the women’s complaints “and did not report the sex harassment to human resources.”

Johnson decided to take action himself and reported the allegations to Human Resources. After an investigation, the supervisor who had allegedly harassed employees was fired.

Two weeks later, Johnson was told there was no longer money in the budget for his position and that he was being fired as well.

Nevertheless, he remains firm in his conviction that taking action “was the right thing to do,” he told a news reporter. His lawsuit asks the court to reinstate him with back pay.

We don’t know how his lawsuit will be resolved, but it is heartening to see someone take a stand and fight for what’s right even at risk to his own career.

A skilled employment law attorney will protect you and your career as you fight for justice against workplace harassment and retaliation.

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