The Department of Justice filed a consent decree in the U.S. District Court of Louisiana. The form resolves sexual harassment allegations placed against the LDSPC, or Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
The LDSPC office administrator, Laura Arceneaux, was the victim of a sexually hostile work environment by her supervisor between the dates of May 2002 and December 2008. The harassment came to head with two separate attempts of sexual assault by her supervisor, the District Administrator Ferral Veillion.
The case has some added weight to the situation since four other employees have come forward claiming that they had full knowledge about the sexual harassment against her, but did nothing about it what so ever. The suit is also alleging that the LDSPC has no way of effectively reporting sexual harassment or assault when it needs to be confronted.
If the courts decide to accept the Justice Departments consent decree, the LDSPC will be required to create an effective method of reporting sexual harassment, as well as providing each employee and supervisor sexual harassment training. The certificate of completion from those classes is what will make all difference in any future sexual harassment cases. Finally, the decree would award Arceneaux with $50,000, including some other expenses incurred along the way.
The $50,000 award may seem small to some, especially after considering that she was victimized for 6 straight years. The fact that she didn't come out with the information sooner makes others wonder why she waited so long. In defense of her delayed actions, some would say that fear of losing a job that pays for a good way of life can be very strong. When physical sexual abuse happened, even she couldn't look the other way.
The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division quoted the federal law that requires every employer to create and maintain a harassment free workplace. The Justice Department did take note of the LDSPC's new efforts to provide effective policies that would prevent harassment and give the proper amount of relief to the victim.
Many think that the filing of this decree shows the Civil Rights Division's ongoing mission to prosecute those who commit sexual harassment. The Civil Rights Division also does their best with the funding they receive to educate and inform the public, in order to prevent as much sexual crimes as possible.
The situation in the LDSPC could have been avoided altogether if the employees and supervisors would have been required to take a sexual harassment class as a part of their employment. It is true that the staff would have to take the class due to the lawsuit, but if the classes would have been taken earlier, then the $50,000 relief payments to the victim could have been avoided. That would have meant saving the money, the lawyer fees, the lost wages, and the lost productivity
It’s still undecided if the courts will accept the decree, but if they do it will be a quick and easy resolution to a complicated situation