A federal judge has allowed a Hartford city employee’s sexual harassment claim to move forward on October 23rd, 2019. The judge said there was enough evidence against the employee’s coworker regarding sexual advances and verbal abuse that created a hostile work environment.
Two Lawsuits Filed by the Employee
A supervisor in the Department of Public Works, Kenneth Blue, has been allowed to continue forward with his federal lawsuit over his treatment by city council assistant Kelly Kirkley-Bey in 2017. The lawsuit is filed against the city of Hartford and approved by Judge Charles Haight, Jr.
This is the second pending lawsuit filed by Blue against the city. The previous one was dismissed by Haight in an earlier decision, prompting him to file another similar lawsuit in Hartford Superior Court.
Sexual Harassment Was Committed After Assault
Kirkley-Bey, the defendant, is a prominent Democratic party activist who tried to run down Blue on January 12th, 2017 in the city hall parking lot. She allegedly held him by the collar in the parking lot and verbally abused him, using several racial slurs. Blue reported the matter to Officer Jim Barrett, the community service officer assigned to city hall.
The second incident occurred in February 2017 when Kirkley-Bey followed Blue in the maintenance office. She took his hands and placed them on her breasts and genital area. She kissed him on the mouth and whispered what it would take to make the first incident go away.
Kirkley-Bey reportedly suggested going out to dinner and smacked Blue on the hips several times. The incident was witnessed by a security officer and Kirkley-Bey was said to be intoxicated at the time.
An independent sexual harassment investigation was launched and paid for by the city, in which merit to Blue’s claims was found. The investigation recommended discipline for both Kirkley-Bey and Blue, but stated that Kirkley-Bey’s should be more severe.
Filing a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit is Victim’s Right
Sexual harassment at the workplace can dredge up feelings of resentment, shame, guilt and frustration. Victims are usually unsure of their next steps. Should they file a complaint with HR or report it to their supervisors? Should they stay quiet about it in the hopes everything will die down. The right thing to do is speak to an experienced sexual harassment lawyer about the best approach.
Sexual harassment remains rampant in Connecticut and American workplaces. There were 12,860 formal sexual harassment complaints made in 2016 as per the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This figure has only increased in recent years. It is important to immediately consult with a sexual harassment attorney.