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Sexual Harassment Verdict Favors Air Force Base Employee

An administrative judge for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") awarded $231,425 to a former civilian technician for the District of Columbia Air National Guard. The EEOC found that she had endured months of sexual harassment from a senior coworker while serving at Andrews Air Force Base. According to reports, Vikki Rouleau complained to supervisors in May 2010 about unwanted sexual advances from a senior coworker at the base. Ms. Rouleau had alleged that the National Guard took no corrective action, and that after she was forced to continue to work in frequent contact with the harassing coworker for several more months. She resigned in November of the same year.

The EEOC entered a default judgment against the agency in September 2012, based on the D.C. National Guard's failure to put into place any cognizable EEO program for its civilian employees. This had resulted in almost 17 months passing between Ms. Rouleau's notification to the agency's EEO director of the harassment and the agency finally giving her written notice of her Title VII rights, much less conducting any investigation of her claims. The EEOC found that this "had the effect of denying her Title VII rights under circumstances where she obtained no relief, no investigation occurred, memories faded and relevant documents may have been lost or destroyed."

In its order, the EEOC found the agency liable for (a) taking an unreasonable amount of time to investigate the sexual harassment and discipline the senior coworker; (b) failing to completely separate Ms. Rouleau and her harasser; and (c) retaliating against Ms. Rouleau by taking away her normal production control and quality assurance duties and reassigning her to clerical duty. According to Federal Daily News, most of the amount awarded in the case, $185,000, was for stress-related damages.

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