Top child protection official resigns amid harassment claims

A leading manager at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, or DFPS, resigned recently in the wake of a woman’s filing a sexual harassment lawsuit. The former employee’s was filed against DFPS but names the man as a perpetrator.

Among other obligations, DFPS investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect and also is responsible for the care and protection of children who have been abused or neglected. Its role extends to protecting vulnerable adults as well.

The suit, which was filed in a Harris County court, alleges that the manager subjected a woman who reported to her to years of sexual harassment. The woman starting working with him in 2018 after getting a promotion. Her employment ended in early 2020.

To summarize, the lawsuit described how the manager would tell sexually suggestive jokes. He also repeatedly made romantic advances toward the woman, forcing the woman to make changes in plans on official trips so she was not staying in the same hotel. He also made unwanted phone calls and texts to her.

This is not the first time this manager has been accused of sexual harassment. Another victim came forward in 2019.

Public employees should not have to tolerate sexual harassment

Through its many government agencies, the State of Texas employees tens of thousands of people, as many as a very large corporation.

Likewise, local governments within Texas employ hundreds of thousands more people. The federal government also has a strong presence in Texas.

Public employees have the same rights to be protected from sexual harassment and a hostile work environment as do employees in the private sector.

If a public employer fails to respect these rights, a victim may be able to seek compensation for damages, including non-economic losses like emotional distress.

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