The state of Louisiana settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department recently for allegations of sexual harassment. The employment litigation involved the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. According to the Justice Department, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections discriminated against one of its employees because she complained about being sexually assaulted by her supervisor.

As part of the settlement, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections will improve its internal sexual harassment policies and training. The settlement also brings to a close and helps resolve a lawsuit against the Department of Public Safety and Corrections in New Orleans. The Justice Department’s civil rights division filed the New Orleans lawsuit.

The case involved a number of allegations. According to the complaint, a supervisor sexually harassed a Probation and Parole office worker. The harassment was said to have begun with inappropriate comments that eventually led to touching and ultimately sexual assault. According to the Justice Department, four other employees knew about the harassment.

Handling sexual harassment allegations can be a delicate matter for a business. The best thing a business can do is establish internal policies for reporting and addressing allegations of sexual harassment. Training on sexual harassment policies is also essential. Additionally, it is very important that employers are quick to act if a sexual harassment allegation is made.

Federal and state laws require employers to maintain a workplace free of harassment. If an employer knows sexual harassment is taking place by a supervisor and chooses not to act, the employer can be held partially liable for the actions of that supervisor. Understanding the law and having policies in place to address harassment is essential to avoiding a costly and time-consuming litigation.

Source: Insurance Journal, “La. Settles Federal Lawsuit Over Sexual Harassment,” Feb. 21, 2012