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Fire chief accused of sexual harassment by three female workers

The purpose of the chief of the fire department is to direct and give guidance to the other firefighters in the department. The chief should be looked at as a mentor, a counselor and an exemplary leader. A chief in Michigan and elsewhere needs to have the trust of the other firefighters, and the ideal is for them to look to a chief as an example. However, one chief did not have set a good example to others because he betrayed the trust of some of his female firefighters. The chief was sentenced recently for sexual harassment concerning three of his firefighters.

He is said to have made unwanted sexual advances toward the three women in the form of text messages. The messages were supposedly sexually explicit, and he also made inappropriate comments to the women. The women had asked the chief to stop. When he persisted, they decided to take legal action, which is warranted by law for workers in Michigan as well as the rest of the United States.

The chief was originally criminally charged with a third-degree misdemeanor charge of harassment and a first-degree misdemeanor charge of stalking. Upon taking a plea deal, the chief's stalking charge was reduced to another third-degree misdemeanor harassment charge. He was sentenced to two years of probation and directed to pay the court costs.

Even though the criminal trial is over, the three women may want to also individually bring civil sexual harassment charges against the chief and his employer. The fact that the man has already pleaded guilty to harassment charges may go a long ways toward establishing civil liability. If successful, these suits could help to compensate the women for the pain and suffering they endured in their hostile work environment, in addition to other financial damages provided by our laws.

Source: firehouse.com, "Lawrence Park, Pa. Fire Chief Sentenced in Female Firefighters Harassment Case," July 22, 2013

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