Sexual Harassment Client Defeats Summary Judgment Motion By County Sheriff’s Department

United States District Court, Northern Illinois District, Eastern Div. (January 2012)

Our client filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against a County Sheriff and some male correctional officers alleging a pattern of sexual harassment and intimidation of female correctional officers. She claims that she was subjected to sexual advances, conduct amounting to hazing, requests for sexual favors, comments derogatory to women and pornographic screen savers depicting a males private part as well as pictures of naked women in the workplace. She further claimed that officers maintain a so called "Book of Shame" containing inmate booking photos, arrested correctional officers, with offensive and derogatory captions such as "I give good blow jobs" written on them. She also claims that she was on the receiving end of endless sexual jokes, innuendos and derogatory nicknames such as "swamp donkey" "swamp bucket" and others. This pervasive conduct created a hostile and intimidating working environment for her and other female employees. When, she complained, the Sheriff's office failed to take effective corrective action against her tormentors.

After the close of discovery and depositions, all of the Defendants moved for summary against on all f her claims, arguing that her case is insufficient to warrant a jury trial. Attorney Scott Fanning from our office submitted a response disputing Defendants's assertions and outlined significant quantities of evidence of a pattern of sexual harassment, intimidation and derogatory treatment of our client as well as other female officers, some of whom had previously filed lawsuits of sexual harassment. After reviewing the voluminous submissions from both sides, the Honorable Judge denied Defendants' motion in part and sustained Plaintiff's case against the Sheriff and another Officer. In doing so, the Court stated that Plaintiff had provided sufficient evidence whether "the atmosphere at the ADF was permeated with incessant unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other physical conduct of a sexual nature. A reasonable jury could conclude, viewing a totality of the circumstances, that the conduct under scrutiny was pervasive and corrosive enough to meet the standard of liability". With this ruling sustaining the case, the Court has now ordered that the parties exchange information regarding expert witnesses in preparation for a jury trial. A jury trial date is expected to be set later this year.

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