Prisons Agency Accused of|Ignoring Cook’s Harassment

     (CN) – California’s prisons agency failed to stop a cook from harassing her male coworker with “sexually profane” comments and groping, including forcing her hand down his pants, the Justice Department claims in court.
     In a federal lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles, the government claims the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation turned a blind eye to cook Joe Cummings’ repeated complaints of sexual harassment by coworker Kimberley Babers.
     Cummings and Babers worked as cooks at the Herman Stark Youth Correctional Facility in Chino, Calif.
     “In or about July 2008, Babers began to refer to Cummings using sexual innuendos and she began to direct sexually profane, inappropriate and unwelcome comments at Cummings on a daily to weekly basis,” the lawsuit states.
     “Ms. Babers’ comments included numerous sexual propositions, including asking Mr. Cummings ‘what it would take’ for him to have sex with her.”
     In 2008 Babers allegedly came up behind Cummings while he was stirring a pot on the stove, “struck him upside the head and said ‘I told you not to talk to that white Bitch,'” referring to another coworker.
     “Babers then put her hand down Cummings’ pants and said ‘when you going to let me do something about this’ in reference to his genitalia,” the government claims.
     Cummings reported this and other incidents to his supervisors, but they failed to take action against Babers, according to the lawsuit.
     Cummings allegedly overheard one of his supervisors say, “Mr. Cummings is a military man, he should not be worried about a whinny (sic) woman … he should be able to take it.”
     The government says the prisons agency knew about prior sexual harassment complaints against Babers but “took no meaningful steps to correct or discipline Babers, allowing her harassment of Cummings to continue.”
     The report from a 2009 internal investigation “indicated that ‘witness testimony provided evidence Babers has used inappropriate language and conducted herself contrary to CDCR policy on multiple occasions,'” the lawsuit states.
     The government seeks an order barring the agency and its staff from engaging in sexual harassment, and awarding Cummings damages for his pain and suffering.
     It is represented by U.S. attorney Andre Birotte Jr., and Delora Kennebrew and Meredith Burrell of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section.

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