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Exposing Self to Staff: Recipe for Harassment

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on November 08, 2010 6:01 AM

A Colorado district attorney was recently arrested for exposing himself to his staff (as well as other inappropriate behavior). But the criminal charges are likely just the start of his legal woes. He and his ex-employer are likely to face a civil sexual harassment suit. The news of his deplorable treatment of his staff illustrate how such behavior is a recipe for harassment.

Myrle Serra was a top prosecutor in his office until it was discovered that he was also using his position of power for sexual favors from some of his staff members. He is now being charged with unlawful sexual conduct, indecent exposure, and several misdemeanors as a result of his highly illegal workplace antics, according to The Montrose Daily Press.

Although it can take on many definitions, sexual harassment can be generally defined as any type of inappropriate workplace behavior as a result of an employee;s sex or by placing an employee in an uncomfortable position as a result of sexual advances and demands.

There are two basic types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo describes those situations in which a supervisor requests sex or makes sexual advancements towards an employee in exchange for a promotion or not firing the employee.

Hostile work environment describes an equally inappropriate type of workplace behavior where photographs, jokes and threats are used in a pervasive and demeaning manner. In the case of Myrle Serra, his behavior was consistent with that of a quid pro quo type of sexual harassment. He used his power over other staff members to demand sexual favors.

Most sexual harassment cases are not as clear cut as Myrle Serra but it does serve as a cautionary tale of how harassment concerns and complaints need to constantly be monitored at all levels.

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