Mascots help motivate and inspire as a symbol of team spirit. Sports teams are built around a symbol like this. Office workplaces often even have a kind of mascot or symbol for what the team stands for. It is not supposed to be something that denigrates, degrades or causes a hostile work environment for a portion of the workers or even a single individual.

Sadly, this is exactly what took place in a law enforcement office. In an industry that is dominated by men, a group of female detectives were forced to go to work every day where supervisors designated a sex toy as the precinct mascot.

According to a lawsuit filed in federal court, one woman said that the sex toy was used not only as a mascot but as a prop during the telling of inappropriately sexual jokes and comments. It was even passed around the office and placed on the chairs of female detectives.

Although women as a group were treated as “second class citizens” in the office, the woman cited specific examples of her experiences in the lawsuit. One of these examples was that a sergeant had asked her to “view his personal pornography collection” with him that was made up of four terabytes of images and video. A deputy chief told extreme “women jokes” referencing the abuse of females.

Those instances only scratched the surface of the sexual harassment alleged to have caused the hostile working environment. The worst part about this story is that it is not as rare as many may think. Sexual harassment is something that affects a lot of people. What those suffering harassment should take from this detective’s story is that something can be done. Record incidents that feel like harassment and include specific dates and details, but most importantly, reach out to someone who can help.

Source: Indiana News Center, “FW Detective Alleges Sexual Harassment, Chief York Responds,” Max Resnik, Oct. 12, 2012

Our law firm defends individuals who have suffered unwelcome sexual behavior in Missouri workplaces by looking at a company’s harassment police and helping lay the best groundwork for a lawsuit.