Sexual Harassment Case Against Army Results in $820,000 Settlement

Starkey, a former military police trainee, claimed she was fired because she filed a sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Lord. She filed suit in 2014. On Wednesday, her sexual harassment lawsuit against the army resulted in a settlement of $820,000. Legal representation for the plaintiff indicated that this settlement payment is one of the largest that the military has agreed to in order to resolve a sexual harassment allegation in history.

The settlement was reached shortly before the case was set to go to trial.

Starkey, the plaintiff in the suit, alleged that her supervisor at the time, Sgt. Wayne Lord, texted her hundreds of sexually explicit messages and nude photos of himself at all hours. This treatment occurred while Presidio of Monterey employed her. This is an Army installation located in California. Starkey alleges that she was terminated after filing the complaint regarding the sexual harassment. She claimed that Sgt. Lord was popular at work and she was ostracized and then fired because she dared to name him in the report and report his behavior. According to the plaintiff’s legal counsel, the Army was aware of Lord’s history of sexual harassment, but Starkey’s direct supervisor at the time of her termination was Lord’s wife, who also worked at the installation as a lieutenant.

Starkey feels that the Army should have supported her as their trainee officer who had been incessantly harassed. But instead of doing so, the Army terminated her from her position. Her accused harasser, who had a history of sexual harassment on his record, was simply assigned to a new job with no apparent repercussions, a police position for the Dept. of Defense (DOD).

Everyone knows how important the chain of command is in the Army, but in this instance, it served to severely limit Starkey’s ability to obtain protection from harassment. A known sexual harasser was allowed to supervise a female trainee officer and that same harasser’s spouse was put in a position of direct supervision of the same trainee – making the wife of the harasser the person to which the harassment would need to be reported.

If you have concerns about sexual harassment in the workplace, please contact your southern California employment law attorney at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.