In March 2014, Guadalupe Lopez, a female police officer and deputy with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, filed a lawsuit against the County of Los Angeles, alleging that she and other female members of the Sheriff’s Department suffered sexual harassment at the hands of a group of male officers who call themselves the “Banditos.” Lopez is suing the department and 100 unnamed deputies for alleged sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, and retaliation in 2011 and 2012.
Lopez claims that when she first started at the LAPD, she was assigned to be a trainee under one of the main members of the “Banditos.” Lopez charges that she soon found out that it was expected that female officers submit themselves sexually to members of the “Banditos.” When Lopez refused to partake in the “Banditos’” demands and reported the harassment to her superiors, she claims that she was retaliated against in a violent manner. According to Lopez, this retaliation included being run off the road by another deputy, being slammed into a wall while she held a loaded shotgun, and having a dead rat placed under her car, according to the lawsuit.
Whether there is any truth to Guadalupe Lopez’s allegations remains to be seen. However, it seems that the County took a step in the right direction when it conducted an investigation into the allegations. In California, an employer whose employee alleges sexual harassment in the workplace is obligated to conduct an investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. California law holds employers liable if they are aware of a sexual harassment situation in the workplace and take no steps to put a stop to it.
California employers are responsible for sexual harassment claims that the employer was aware of yet did not investigate or put a stop to and are prohibited from retaliated against employees who make claims of harassment in the workplace. If you believe that you have experienced sexual harassment in your workplace and no investigation into your allegations was conducted after you reported the harassment, your employer may be liable for the harassment. In addition, if you were terminated, suspended, demoted or otherwise disciplined for reporting sexual harassment, you may have a claim of retaliation. An experienced employment law attorney will be able to determine your legal options.