Cynthia Fuller was an employee at the Idaho Department of Correction for eight years. Cynthia then met Herbt Cruz who they began an off-duty romantic relationship. They dated briefly and Fuller attempted to end their relationship with Cruz after she felt that Cruz was becoming aggressive and over-controlling (United States Court of Appeals, 2017). Initially, Fuller was unsuccessful in ending the relationship and began visiting a therapist due to depression and stress caused by the relationship.
After disclosing the relationship to the DOC supervisors, Cruz allegedly beat, kidnapped, sodomized, and rapped her since she was trying to end the relationship. Viewing the facts of the court case, it is clear that Fuller suffered workplace discrimination which was defended by Title VII hostile work environment claim. Title VII prohibits discrimination of employees based on conditions, compensation, terms, and privileges of employment (United States Court of Appeals, 2017). Cynthia was raped by a co-worker who before the sexual assault had been subject to various complaints by other female co-workers.
Complaint Procedure and Employer’s Response
Cynthia Fuller laid a formal complaint which she believed would enable her to resolve the issue. She first reported to the DOC supervisors who knew about the investigations but failed to tell Fuller about it when she first reported the relationship with Cruz. Fuller then met with the parole officer and reported the sexual harassment by Cruz. She presented photos of her injuries that confirmed that she had been raped. With the assistance of attorneys, Fuller then filed a federal lawsuit against DOC, the state, and two DOC supervisors.
After Fuller reported the sexual harassment to the supervisors and Canyon County Sherrif’s office. The supervisors had agreed to give Fuller an administrative leave but they backed down on the offer. However, Cruz was given a restraining order where he was ordered to avoid coming within 1,000 feet close to Fuller (United States Court of Appeals, 2017). They declined the paid administrative leave and requested Fuller to use her sick leave and vacation time instead. However, IDOC standard operating procedures 206 permit that the director should offer paid administrative leave when necessary due to the emergency, unusual situation, and critical incidence.
There are several steps that an employer can rely on to ensure that the workplace is free from sexual harassment. One of the most effective ways to prevent sexual harassment is through the implementation of a sexual harassment policy within the organization. In the employee handbook, there should be a policy that focuses on sexual harassment by offering a clear definition of sexual harassment and clear procedures for filing sexual harassment.
At least once a year, the employees need to be trained about sexual harassment and explain to the employees about their rights to file sexual harassment complaints and ensure that they working in an environment free of sexual harassment. Other than training employees, managers and supervisors should receive separate training on how to deal with complaints of sexual harassment.
The federal district court ordered an amended judgment that awarded Fuller $300,000 due to sexual harassment claims and a hostile working environment for women. DOC was held liable for developing a hostile work environment through their acts of negligence.