A coworker was accused of inappropriate behavior by a student and I also experienced inappropriate behavior by this same teacher. I was prepped to testify against him and something happened and was told I wouldn’t

I am a school secretary and a male teacher was getting a little too chummy with me. He was in the middle of a separation with his wife and he knew I was recently divorced. He would come in to my office and cry and tell me about his problems and I told him he needed to talk to someone like a therapist to help him deal with this. I had just started this job and was uncertain how to deal with this situation that made me feel uncomfortable. He would touch my shoulder which made me really feel

weird. I finally told him I was dating someone seriously and that seemed to keep him from coming around and I told him I was too busy to talk. That was a little less than 3 years ago. A year ago a female student told her parents about this same male teacher that made her feel creepy the way he would talk to her and tell her how pretty she was and ask if she would meet him for coffee after school, that brought more female students forward that also told incidents of inappropriate behavior. The school’s attorneys got involved and there was a hearing that the girl testified and I was scheduled to but was told by my boss that the matter was settled. He told me that this teacher would not be able to interact with children again in a school setting or something like that. I was under the understanding that this teacher would not be back at the school where I work. He was not at my school this past school year and I was relieved to not have to deal with seeing him. Yesterday, I was typing up the

Asked on June 13, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot compel the school or district to terminate or reassign a co-worker you are not comfortable with; employers (whether they are schools or not) are not required to do this. An employer is free to decide whether to keep or terminate staff, whether to redeploy them or reschedule them, etc. (Consider: if they did, then anytime one employee made another uncomfortable for any reason--and this is common; we have all worked with people whom we know or suspect act improperly, or who are creepy--they'd have to fire or reassign one.) There is nothing you can do other than decide if you can live with this, or if you need to look for a different job.


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