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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court Revives Halfway House Harassment Claim

(CN) - A female worker at a halfway house does not have to tolerate harassment from the recently paroled men living there, a California appeals court ruled.

Joyce Turman sued Turning Point of Central California, where she worked as a resident monitor, for a hostile work environment and gender-based discrimination.

The residents at Turning Point often propositioned Turman for sex, made sexual gestures at her and called her vulgar names.

When Turman would complain, her boss would tell her "they don't really mean it" or "try and be nicer to 'em."

One day, after Turman had asked for time off due to work-related stress, Turning Point fired her. Her supervisors claimed they were preparing to shift workers' schedules for financial reasons, and Turning Point's federal contract prohibited Turman from working the night shift alone.

The trial court ruled for the halfway house, finding that Turning Point's employment practice did not discriminate against women and that Turman's employers had tried to correct the unavoidably hostile work environment.

On appeal in California's sixth district court, Presiding Justice Conrad Rushing overturned the decision and remanded the case for further action.

"While enduring inappropriate behavior by prisoners may be 'inherently part of the job' in a restrictive penal environment, respondents cannot refrain from taking corrective action to preserve appellant's right to be free from a hostile work environment," Rushing wrote. "There is no evidence in the record before us that any corrective action was taken."

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