Legal representation for the city of Homestead, Florida, attempted to block legal action taken by its former deputy city manager in a case where workplace harassment has taken center stage. However, just recently, a judge in Florida permitted the trial to move forward and lawyers on both sides can continue gathering evidence to build a case.
The legal action was initially filed in September of 2011 and detailed tales where fellow city officials violated the former deputy city manager’s trust. The woman was fired from her duties in 2009, but at the time, claimed that she was being sexually harassed by the now former city manager. The ousted woman told city officials that she would not pursue a sexual harassment lawsuit if they agreed to pay her severance.
Despite the agreement, city officials still released romantic text messages between the woman and the city manager. This, according to the woman and her lawyers, infringed on her privacy and defamed her.
The opposition argues that the text messages, which were dug up by a third party investigator hired by the city, should be public record because they had to do with business. The defense stated that because the city manager was the woman’s superior, it affected everyday business.
Furthermore, the woman might have hurt herself by providing conflicting accounts of the supposed sexual harassment while on the job. When the former city manager decided to sue Homestead for wrongful termination, the woman was presented as a witness. She stated that she was not offended by the manager’s romantic text messages.
Sexual harassment on the job should never be misinterpreted or used as a bartering tool. The outcome of this suit will have a lot to do with whether the woman was genuinely harassed while employed with the city.
If the woman was taken aback by the romantic text messages, she should have spoken up right away and took her manager to task. Like many others, perhaps she was worried about retaliation and feared losing her job.
Source: The Miami Herald, “Homestead ex-employee’s lawsuit moving forward,” Christina Veiga, July 31, 2012