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Posted On: January 23, 2009 by

Prior Record Of Supervisor Used As Leverage to Settle Sexual Harassment Case for $325,000

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services agreed to pay an Oxford woman $320,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. Dorothy Hawley filed a lawsuit against supervisor James Hobgood at John Umstead Hospital. Hobgood had a prior history of mistreating female workers including a conviction for assaulting Hawley and another female employee in October 2000. In Illinois, if an employer retains an employee with a history of sexually harassing women and exposes women to that person, the employer would have created a hostile work environment a new round of sexual harassment takes place.

According to court documents the evidence showed that Hobgood had been fired from another state facility 22 years earlier. In that case, Hobgood was disciplined for sexual harassment after complaints from female staffers about his behavior. His behavior in that case was so outrageous that his personnel file stated he should not be hired again by the state.

According to the News & Observer Hawley had won $433,000 in damages from the N.C. Industrial Commission, but the state appealed the award. Mediation resulted in the $320,000 settlement. In Illinois mediation is available once a claim is filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the lawyer representing Lawley the lawsuit represents the first time someone had sued the state under a claim of negligent hiring, negligent retention and negligent supervision of an employee.

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