A former lifeguard for a D.C. public school was awarded $3.5 million for a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed against the D.C. Department of Parks and recreation.
In addition to awarding the plaintiff such a large settlement they also recommend that the Department of Park and Recreations institute sexual harassment training and reporting system to address any future incidents.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2006 by Carmen Jean-Baptiste who was hired to work as a lifeguard at one of D.C.’s public pools. Shortly after he began her job one of her supervisors, Rodney Weaver began harassing her by repeatedly asking her for a date and making sexual advances.
Jean-Baptiste’s suit alleges that once she rejected his advances the harassment got worse. According to her attorney, Weaver made references to her genitalia by saying he “wanted some of that.” Weaver also allegedly stroked her hair and made many more sexual comments and overtures.
Jean-Baptiste reported the hostile work environment to no less than six of her supervisors, but the harassment didn’t stop. She was fired a short time later which her sexual harassment lawyer says was retaliation.
The jury foreman, John C. Henry explained their decision, “They (supervisors for the Department) ignored, stalled and delayed any actions on her allegations,” also stating the jury felt “embarrassed” about how the case was handled. They awarded Jean-Baptiste such a large settlement for her pain and suffering.
For Jean-Baptiste the decision was a long time coming and assures that any future employees for the Department of Parks and Recreation will not have to endure the abuse she suffered.