Female OPSO deputy files lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, retaliation at jail

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NEW ORLEANS – A female Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy was suspended indefinitely without pay after complaining about sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a new federal lawsuit.

Victoria Harris filed the lawsuit in federal court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on December 12, according to her attorneys.

In the lawsuit, Harris alleges she was “exposed to unwanted and unwelcomed sex harassment” while working as a guard at the Orleans Parish Justice Center.

When Harris reported the abuse to OPSO officials, she was accused of criminal activity, resulting in her suspension without pay.

Even after an internal investigation cleared Harris of all charges, she remained on indefinite suspension without pay, effectively ending her employment with the OPSO, according to the lawsuit.

OPSO Major Nichole Harris and former HR Director Johnette Staes are named in the lawsuit directly, as well as other sheriff’s department employees who have refused to return Victoria Harris’ calls and have not responded to requests for clarification on her employment status.

“Victoria Harris was essentially constructively discharged, or placed on indefinite unpaid suspension, for simply requesting she not be sexually harassed in the workplace,” Bryce G. Murray, an attorney on the case, said.

The OPSO has not yet responded to the lawsuit.

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