Enforcing the Law on Law Enforcement – Florida Police Chief Under Investigation for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

Sexual harassment can take place in a variety of workplace settings and among a number of professionals, including police who have been given the responsibility to serve and protect the community. Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham is currently under investigation for harassing multiple officers by making lewd comments and participating in sexually suggestive behavior. If that was not bad enough, news reports indicate he engaged in this type of behavior at a funeral for a fallen officer, according to PINAC News.

The alleged actions of Chief Graham are quite shocking. He allegedly made repeated sexual advances to subordinate officers, attempted to access an officer’s cell phone in an attempt to retrieve sexual suggestive photographs, and demanded subordinates engage in a game of “never have I ever” while repeatedly making lewd and inappropriate comments.

The officers who filed the complaint against Chief Graham described the experience as terrible and horrifying, according to Ocala.com. The formal grievance against Chief Greg Graham alleged sexual harassment, hostile treatment, retaliation and discrimination.

Example of a Hostile Work Environment

Under Florida law, a hostile work environment is one that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Examples of sexual harassment that can create a hostile work environment include the following:

  • Making offensive comments regarding an individual’s appearance;
  • Contact that makes an employee feel uncomfortable;
  • Making sexual or vulgar jokes and/or making sexual gestures to an individual; or
  • Sending letters, emails, text messages or images with sexual connotations.

The allegations levied against Chief Graham appear to be a prime example of a hostile work environment.

Mayor Refuses to Suspend Chief

In a prime example of shirking the legitimate concerns of employees in favor of defending indefensible behavior, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn has refused to suspend the chief until an investigation into the allegations is complete. This is despite the fact that multiple witnesses confirm the incident occurred and that the employees of filed the complaint still have the report to Chief Graham.

“He’s my friend,” said Mayor Quinn at a news conference, according to wuft.com. “I trust the Chief and now we are simply verifying the allegations and that’s the reason I did not put him on administrative leave or suspend him, because it would give validity to those allegations and I’m not going to give validity to those allegations.”

It is these types of comments that exemplify why so many employees subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination do not come forward. Here is an elected leader of a city basically dismissing their grievance before an investigation has yet to be completed. It sends a signal to other employees that filing grievances only stirs up trouble. This is the wrong message for any workplace, especially for the police force, which is tasked with supporting and defending the community.

Do Not Suffer in Silence – Take Action by Contacting a Fort Lauderdale Sexual Harassment Lawyer

If you are being subjected to sexual harassment or a hostile work environment, you need to understand your legal rights and shed light on the inappropriate behavior of an employee or supervisor. Contact Mark J. Berkowitz, P.A., a Fort Lauderdale sexual harassment attorney, at (954) 527-0570 today.

Resources:

FL Police Chief Under Investigation for Sexual Harassment

Ocala council takes steps to suspend police chief

Ocala Mayor Stands By Police Chief In Sexual Harassment Investigation