Sunday, June 16, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Thursday, December 24, 2015
Airport Division Turned Blind Eye to Sex Harassment
By Selected News Articles @ 2:35 PM :: 6057 Views :: Ethics, Hawaii State Government, Labor

DOJ Nabs a Win for Harassed HI Employee

by Julie St. Louis, Court House News, December 23, 2015

HONOLULU (CN) - A federal jury on Tuesday found the state of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of Transportation's airports division violated a former employee's civil rights by turning a blind eye to sexual harassment.

The jury's verdict stems from a discrimination case filed in 2014 on behalf of Sherry Valmoja by the Justice Department, as part of a cooperative project designed to ensure vigorous enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by state and local government employers.

Valmoja originally filed her sexual harassment claims against Hawaii's transportation department with the Honolulu field office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which bumped it up to a higher level for further action.

"Sexual harassment remains a significant problem for our nation's workforce," Equal Employment Opportunity Commission chairwoman Jenny R. Yang said. "EEOC takes very seriously its obligation to obtain redress for employees who are victims of these egregious practices."

Evidence presented in the initial complaint and at trial showed that Valmoja experienced sexual harassment in the form of lewd and unwelcome comments and physical intimidation by a co-worker during her employment as an bomb-sniffing dog handler at the Honolulu International Airport.

The unwelcome conduct and intimidation began as early as November 2008, when both Valmoja and her co-worker were employed by a private company that contracted with the state. It continued after both became state employees.

In one example, the co-worker called her his "brown baby," repeatedly stated that he "likes the way she puts her makeup on, the way her perfume smells and it makes him want to do things to her," Valmoja's complaint stated.

The jury found that despite timely complaints by Valmoja about her co-worker's conduct, the state defendants failed to take prompt and effective action to remedy the harassment - which continued until March 2011 - and created an abusive and hostile working environment.

"This verdict serves as a reminder to employers that they must remain vigilant in preventing and remedying harassment in their workplace," Yang said.

The jury awarded Valmoja $38,000 for the pain and suffering she endured because of the harassment.

The Justice Department has asked for a permanent injunction prohibiting Hawaii from discriminating against its employees, review and revision of its sexual harassment policies and complaint procedures and training for its employees on discrimination, according to a statement by the department.

Decisions about the additional injunctive relief are still pending.

"The Justice Department vigorously enforces Title VII to ensure that people can work free from sexual harassment and retaliation," said principal Deputy Assistant Attorney Vanita Gupta, head of the DOJ's civil rights division. "This jury's verdict sends a loud message and a clear reminder that we will continue to effectively combat sex-based discrimination whenever it occurs in a public-sector workplace."

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii