The Lexington Herald-Leader (6/21/13) reports that the plaintiff, Stacy Smith, was an employee of the Transportation Cabinet and alleged she left her job because of harassment. That harassment allegedly included graphic sexual discussions, offensive comments and unwanted touching. In addition to the sexual harassment, Smith claims she was forced to clean blood from a dead dear and was urinated on by her supervisor.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
Harassment and abusive treatment of employees is prohibited under employment laws, and specifically under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, along with other federal and state regulations. Harassment can include comments, demands for sexual acts, sexual phone calls, jokes, drawings, offensive gestures or e-mails that subject the employee to a hostile working environment. Employers are also not allowed to engage in unwanted physical contact or to intimidate or threaten employees.
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In addition to federal laws prohibiting harassment, Kentucky laws prevent an employer from making employment decisions conditioned on offensive sexual behavior or comments. Furthermore, it is illegal for supervisors or managers to allow working conditions that contribute to sexual harassment. Employers are considered responsible for the actions of their employees even if the employer did not know about the behavior. Under Kentucky law, an employer is someone who employs eight or more people. Under federal law, an employer is someone who employs 1.5 or more people.
Kentucky employment law requires a person to file a complaint within 180 days of the last incident.