Chapel Hill Failed to Protect Housekeeper From Harassment, Judge Rules

An administrative judge in North Carolina ruled last week that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had failed to protect one of its housekeepers from sexual harassment. The employee, Maria Isabel Prudencio-Arias, had filed a whistle-blower claim alleging that the university retaliated against her for accusing her supervisor of harassment. The judge ruled that she had established only part of her whistle-blower claim, but found that the university had “acted arbitrarily and capriciously in applying its policy … in investigating petitioner’s claims of harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and as such, violated petitioner’s due-process rights.” A state panel will review the ruling and make a final decision in the case.

Prudencio-Arias, who still works as a housekeeper, said this proves she was telling the truth.

“It is wonderful because justice was done and the truth came out. I don’t want a repeat of what happened to me to happen to other people,” she said.

Lassiter awarded her attorney’s fees and said the university should give her a job that meets her medical restrictions and “free from retaliation and harassment.”

Prudencio-Arias’ attorney Al McSurely said he will ask the commission to also award her $160,000 in damages for lost personal leave, depression and emotional stress.

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