Recent events relating to sexual harassment in Miami and the surrounding communities only serve to underline the need for adequate employee training programs and timely action by victims of abuse. Both employers and workers stand to learn something from the case developing in Miami Gardens involving the highest levels of authority in the police department.
ABC News reports here that former police chief Antonio Brooklen, along with erstwhile subordinates Kimberly McDonald and Kalicia Battle, are the central figures in this harassment dispute. The plot might seem like something out of a Shakespearian play: a complicated love triangle involving alleged abuses of power and a web of workplace relationships.
Brooklen, who is married, began allegedly harassing Battle on her first interview, during which he asked for her phone number. She soon began an online correspondence with her boss, reportedly unwilling to reject his advances for fear of her job. The beleaguered Battle now holds a concrete account of these sometimes-salacious missives, evidence she intends to present to the court.
Battle’s lawyer presented an intent-to-sue letter on September 19, 2016. This was three days before Brooklen tendered his resignation to the city of Miami Gardens, according to the Miami Herald.
As for McDonald’s involvement, she admits being involved romantically with both Brooklen and Battle. Events came to a head during a domestic dispute between McDonald and Battle, an event that precipitated the suspension of McDonald with pay and the resignation of Battle.
It seems no position is too lofty to be stained by this particular scandal. Even the mayor, who has personal ties to the alleged harasser, is treading lightly in his refusal to make a statement on the matter.
Both McDonald and Battle are now pursuing action against Miami Gardens. McDonald is currently still suspended with pay.
The fact that these issues threaten the reputation of a local police department is no small matter. It would indicate that any organization is liable for losses due to inappropriate behavior towards co-workers. If the police force had implemented an effective prevention program based on the sexual harassment sections of the Florida law governing public employees, this might have been prevented.
Protect your own organization, and make sure you get legal advice when implementing a pronation program. There are specific rules for several types of businesses, such as those governing healthcare, and rules that delineate certain preventable crimes related to the subject, such as cyberharassment.
One important thing to note is that you do not need to wait until a major altercation takes place to begin the process of harassment remediation. In fact, the only reason McDonald and Battle are able to pursue their cases against Brooklen is that they acted quickly.
Please act soon if you believe you would like to pursue action against an individual or organization that is currently harassing or has done so in the past. There is a relatively short statute of limitations on sexual harassment in Miami due to Florida State as well as Federal code. Even if you believe the time has passed for you to pursue a remedy through one avenue, it does not mean that your options are exhausted.