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Michigan politician accuses civil rights leader of harassment

A female state lawmaker representing Detroit has accused a Michigan civil rights leader of repeated sexual harassment, prompting the body that employs the man to place him on administrative leave while it investigates the allegations. The 36-year-old Democratic representative recently sent a complaint to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, asserting that the head of the committee's Michigan office routinely harassed her and other women in an inappropriate manner. She also accused the committee of being aware of the misconduct but failing to take appropriate action to prevent it.

The representative sent a copy of her complaint to the Detroit Free Press, contending that the 52-year-old ADC official sexually harassed her when she worked at the committee's Dearborn office in 1999. The office's former deputy director, 33, seconded the accusations, claiming that the man regularly engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior. The official is accused of inappropriately groping and rubbing his body against the women, attempting to kiss them, making suggestive comments and asking them to sleep with him.

The two former ADC workers also noted that the official was ordered to attend sensitivity training after eight female volunteers and employees made similar complaints in 2007. Both women said they felt it necessary to submit the complaints after seeing photos of the official with new female interns. One of the women said she was upset that the ADC, a "civil-rights organization . . . charged with defending and protecting the rights of individuals" has failed to protect those it employs.

The committee immediately placed the Michigan leader on administrative leave while it conducts a full investigation into the representative's claims, a move to which the man reportedly agreed. It announced its intention to contract an independent entity to conduct the investigation, stressing that it takes allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and that any harassment "will not be tolerated." The board added that it will consider the continued employment of the civil rights leader once the investigation is complete.

Allegations of sexual harassment can result in serious penalties for organizations and businesses accused of such behavior. This makes it crucial for anyone facing such allegations to consult with a qualified attorney.

Source:  Deadline Detroit, "Update: Arab-American Leader On Leave Amid Harassment Inquiry" No Author Given, Jun. 02, 2013

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