Philadelphia Employment Law News

Internal Affairs, Indeed; Policewoman Harassed for Years by Boss

Usually it is the Internal Affairs crew that investigates wrongdoing within a police force, not causes it. They're the ones that are supposed to be investigating whether cops are embezzling funds or selling confiscated drugs on the street.

Recently, Philadelphia Police Internal Affairs Bureau Staff Inspector Jerrold Bates was accused by aide Keisha Johnson of forcing her into a sexual relationship in order to keep her job, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. The harassment allegedly started in 2008 when Bates slipped his hands under Johnson's shirt during a one on one meeting in his office.

From then until December 2011, Bates took every opportunity to brush against her in a sexual manner and asked her if she was wearing a thong, according to the Daily News. At one point, Bates told Johnson that there was a reason that she was working there and implied that she would not have a full-time job if she did not put up with the advances. Johnson has since filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment.

There are two recognized types of sexual harassment in the workplace. One is quid pro quo, or this for that, where a supervisor threatens firing or withholds a promotion for sex. The other is where a coworker or supervisor has created a hostile work environment through their conduct.

Here, if Johnson's story is true, Bates could be found to have either created a quid pro quo or hostile work environment situation. Johnson's claim that Bates told her she would have a different job fits clearly within a "this for that" situation.

A work environment is hostile when there is unwelcome sexual conduct that is severe or pervasive enough to create an abusive working situation. A court determines whether it is hostile by weighing whether conduct was verbal or physical, the frequency of the conduct, whether it was patently offensive, and other elements.

Based on what Johnson has reported, there was a hostile work environment because there were constant remarks and constant sexual touching that many would find offensive. However, if Bates could prove that there was mutual consent for the actions, Johnson's case may not make it far. This seems unlikely because Johnson left on her own will and based on the facts reported, does not have an obviously underhanded motive to sue Jerrold Bates.

It just goes to prove that there is no place that sexual harassment will not be found out, even in the Internal Affairs Bureau of a police department.

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