New Jersey Detective awarded 275K in a Sexual Harassment Settlement
A Female Detective alleges ongoing Sexual Harassment by her Immediate Supervisor
Cumberland County, New York – A female detective who worked in the Organized Crime Bureau in Cumberland County filed a claim of tort for sexual harassment requesting 2.5M in 2013.
Court records indicate that Detective Lynn Wehling claims her colleague, Detective George Chopek allegedly made “inappropriate comments” in regards to her gender and sexual orientation.
Detective Wehling started working in the Organized Crime Bureau in 2004. Approximately 5 years later, the sexual harassment lawsuit claims that the sexual harassment began when Detective Chopek, deputy commander of the Narcotics Unit, turned into Wehling’s “immediate supervisor.”
In addition to being Wehling’s supervisor, Chopek was also Wehling’s neighbor to her residence. Chopek was accused of consistently making negative comments in reference to Wehling’s sex life while inquiring about a specific relationship she shared with an unidentified female who visited on occasion. It appears Chopek alleges that he witnessed the presence of Wehling and her guest through her home window, which allowed him to “fantasize” about the women.
According to the sexual harassment claims, Chopek verbally addressed Wehling with titles including “a guy, sir, and dude.” Some of the references were used publicly while other individuals of the Narcotics Unit were present. There is no fun in being the center of the jokes at work, especially when the jokes are having a negative impact on the person targeted.
A part of Wehling’s job involves transporting inmates. During a day when Wehling and Chopek were transporting inmates, Chopek allegedly found the time just right to express his sense of humor through “inappropriate comments” on the way to Cumberland County Jail located in Bridgeton. The sexual harassment lawsuit claims the inmates laughed at Chopek’s tasteless remarks, which caused Wehling to feel frustrated, humiliated, and devalued as a respectable authority figure in the workplace.
Although Wehling filed numerous sexual harassment complaints about Chopek’s misconduct, there is no evidence confirming any further actions were taken to remedy the situation. In 2011, as a result of the lack of assistance Wehling received to adjust the discomfort at work, she transferred from her original position in the Organized Crime Bureau’s Narcotics Unit to a position in the Organized Crime Bureau’s Intel/Gang Unit.
The transfer eliminated Chopek as the immediate supervisor. However, both Wehling and Chopek continued to work in the same facility. Based on the original tort claim that was filed in 2013, the sexual harassment allegedly continued after the internal transfer. The close proximity between the Narcotics Unit and the Intel/Gang Unit made it impossible to escape to the stressful hostile work environment consumed with alleged sexual harassment that no one took the time to investigate.
Cumberland County selected the Settlement Option to close the Sexual Harassment Case
After careful consideration of the negative publicity and expenses Cumberland County would face if this sexual harassment case went to trial, the Freeholders agreed to settle this case outside of court. Ted Baker, Cumberland County Solicitor, stated, “This is not the happiest of results, but one we feel is a reasonable solution and most appropriate at this time.”
The main focus of Cumberland County in this lawsuit seems to aim towards being cost-effective for the greater good of the County as opposed to analyzing the entire sexual harassment case thoroughly, and providing answers to how one of their very own employees found the courage to make a complaint about her unwanted experience, and no one reached out to help her.
Wehling’s initial request of 2.5M in damages has been significantly reduced to 275K. According to Baker, the insurance will cover about 100K of the settlement, and the county coffers will cover the balance.
Have you ever been an Employee suffering from Workplace Sexual Harassment or Discrimination?
Your answer could be yes, no, I don’t know, or I know someone who has been. No matter which response you fall underneath, there is no harm in being aware of what to do if this ever happens to you. In the event that you become a victim of workplace harassment or workplace discrimination, file a sexual harassment or discrimination complaint with the Human Resources division of your job. Keep a personal log documenting each incident that occurs. If your place of employment does not acknowledge your sexual harassment complaint and attempt to fix the work-related issue, seek legal representation immediately from the sexual harassment lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC. Call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation.