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SF church under fire for alleged sexual harassment of employee

No one should ever be forced to tolerate sexual harassment at work. It is degrading and humiliating for those who are subjected to it. While some feel they are able to speak up, others are silent victims afraid of retaliation from an employer. Sometimes that fear is justified.

Recently, a woman was fired from her job at St. Francis of Assisi Church in San Francisco. The young single mother was an assistant to the church rector. In a recent lawsuit, the woman claims that the church fired her because she refused to endure sexual harassment from the man who served as president of the church's board of trustees.

In her lawsuit, she explained how the man would spank her, hit her with a paddle and have sexual intercourse with her at work. He continued to pursue her outside of work through emails and inappropriate photos. Finally, she had had enough.

The woman emailed the president of the board to say she would no longer put up with this behavior. Soon after, she was fired.

The church, however, says her termination was related to a personnel issue that they were not able to discuss. Recently, the church accused her of embezzlement.

Although the church terminated the man who allegedly harassed the woman, it does not make up for the fact that it may have unfairly fired a woman in order to avoid any bad publicity of its own. However, as this woman's situation has shown, it is possible to hold an employer accountable for retaliation and wrongful termination over alleged sexual harassment.

Source: ABC 7, "Woman claims she was fired by church after abuse," Vic Lee, Nov. 22, 2013

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