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$1.5m Sexual Harassment Win for Contract Phlebotomist

A Vista Superior Court jury awarded Kimberli Hirst $1.5 million for a pattern of ongoing sexual harassment an officer of the Oceanside Police Department. Kimberli was a contract phlebotomist who took blood samples from those accused of driving under the influence. She was employed by American Forensic Nurses.

The officer accused of the sexual harassment admitted to making inappropriate and suggestive comments, however he claimed that she invited the attention. The Oceanside Police Department and the City of Oceanside claim that the contract employee never complained of the harassment and they only learned of the offensive behavior when a security guard who overheard conversations between the contract employee and the male officer.

The jury did not find this to be persuasive and ruled in favor of employee. The 12-person Vista jury voted 11-1 in favor of Hirst. The jury concluded that the Oceanside Police Department failed to properly investigate and handle the harassment. This finding of failure to properly investigate the harassment was based on the fact that the Oceanside Police Department and the City of Oceanside waited approximately five weeks before acted on information about sexual harassment between the male officer and employee. Instead, during that time, the harassment was allowed to continue because it went unchecked.