Harassment in the workplace is something that should never be taken lightly. Sexual harassment is a serious problem that can put employees in an uncomfortable and threatening situation. Unfortunately, West Virginia is not immune to sexual harassment in the workplace.
In 2011, a Wheeling police officer was charged with sexual assault. Four women came forward and accused him of inappropriate behavior. In January 2012, the officer was indicted on two sexual abuse charges. Recently, however, he made a plea bargain with the prosecutor.
The officer, who had been on leave without pay since December 2011, pleaded no contest to charges of misdemeanor harassment. In exchange, the prosecutor dismissed the sexual assault charges. The officer has been ordered to resign from his position with the police department in Wheeling and drop a wrongful termination lawsuit he had filed against the city. He will serve a year of probation.
Although this man faced criminal penalties, it is possible in a situation like this for the victims to hold a perpetrator accountable. Employees should be treated fairly and respectfully. When a boss or co-worker begins to take advantage of another employee by making inappropriate comments, gestures or advances, that employee has legal rights. Sexual harassment is illegal, so it's important for victims to speak up. If you feel like your job may be on the line if you speak up, it may be best to speak with an experienced attorney who can advise you of your legal options. No one should have to endure sexual harassment.
Source: Charleston Gazette, "Wheeling officer pleads no contest to harassment," Feb. 13, 2013