A second employee of Birmingham's downtown library has filed suit against her employer, claiming library patrons are looking at pornography on the internet and management is doing nothing about it.
In this most recent suit, filed last week in federal court, employee Karen Jackson claims security officers have engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior as well. Jackson is a supervisor who is still employed at the library.
Another employee, a library assistant, filed a previous lawsuit against the library. Both employees went through the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) process and were found to have the right to sue in this case.
In a six page lawsuit, Jackson lays out 33 claims of why her job at the downtown Birmingham library is a sexually hostile work environment. Her claims include:
-that patrons are routinely allowed to view pornography on library computers, often in the presence of children
-that patrons regularly engage in offensive sexual conduct such as masturbation in the presence of children
-that management has failed to address the matter
Jackson's lawyer, Adam Morel, is the attorney for both employees suing the library. Morel says each of his clients filed no less than 10 complaints with their supervisors before feeling the matter was not being addressed. He said Jackson alleges that not only has the inappropriate behavior been talking place, but also that security at the library is "woefully inadequate."
Morel points to statement taken during deposition during which one manager said "I agree that is happening to them," and another statement, in which managers are accused of telling employees with concerns, "If you don't like it, leave."
Morel says both women understand that working in any downtown space, they may be subjected to some "unsavory stuff."
"But the problem is, the law requires employers, in this case, the city and the library, to take reasonable steps to protect its employees against this stuff and they have not done that," Morel said.
Mayor Bell declined to comment on Tuesday about the lawsuits, saying that the cases are pending. Councilman Johnathan Austin also declined, but did say he will call for an audit of all the city-owned technology to make sure the latest safeguards are in place to prevent the viewing of lewd material.
"But what we can address is technology, and how we make sure that if there is a problem we solve it, and how we prevent things like this from happening," Austin said.
Morel's clients are still moving forward with their lawsuits against the library.
"What they're looking for first and foremost is for the library to be cleaned up, to go to their jobs and work in an area free of this pollution," Morel said.
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