The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 17, 1998, Page 3, Image 3

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    Harassment ruling affects local case
By Josh Funk
Senior Reporter
As news of a U.S, Supreme Court ruling
outlawing same-sex sexual harassment
reverberated throughout the country, its
effects also were felt by one Lincoln man.
A former male employee of the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs in Lincoln
has filed suit against his male supervisor for
harassment, including sexual harassment.
In his complaint, Jose Lovato-Littlefish
alleged he endured prolonged racial and
physical harassment from the man who was
supposed to be training him.
Racial slurs and unwelcome touching
were a regular part of Lovato-Littlefish’s
work throughout 1995, he said in a com
plaint filed in October with the U.S. District
But until the Supreme Court announced
its decision, Lovato-Littlefish said “he did
not understand the touching abuse coming
from a man.”
The harassment didn’t go unreported, he
said, but management still refused to act.
“(My boss) was supposed to be termi
nated if he continued, but the bosses didn’t
follow through,” Lovato-Littlefish said.
Instead, the offending manager received
little more than a verbal warning from supe
riors, Lovato-Littlefish said.
Despite filing all the reports he could
and pursuing every pption, Lovato
Littlefish was told he still must complete
training with the man who was allegedly
harassing him.
Bound by his economic situation and
the need to support his family, Lovato
Littlefish stayed at the VA for nearly a year
before the harassment became too much for
him to handle, he said.
It was only after one of his complaints
reached the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission that Lovato
Littlefish considered filing a lawsuit.
After following all the necessary chan
nels, the EEOC ruled his complaints were
valid, prompting Lovato-Littlefish to go to
Federal Court.
Without a lawyer, Lovato-Littlefish has
filed several complaints in court, but they
are still in preliminary stages.
It remains unclear what will happen to
the suit. This week Magistrate Judge David
Piester denied Lovato-Littlefish’s request
for a court-appointed lawyer, and the VA
moved to dismiss the case because of a lack
of jurisdiction.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln law
experts said people need to be aware of their
actions in the office and communicate
clearly to avoid harassment.
“It is important to think about the
impact before you act,” UNL Affirmative
Action Director Linda Crump said.
Something as simple as a bouquet of
flowers or an off-color joke can be consid
ered harassment, she said.
In one such case at UNL, a man gave his
female employee flowers to reward her for a
job well done, but she interpreted it as a sex
ual advance, Crump said.
If someone is using
their power to force
something, it is
Linda Crump
UNL affirmative action director
Better communication could have elim
inated the problem before it started, Crump
Supervisors must be especially careful.
The power they hold changes the rules of
behavior, Crump said.
“Their behavior has a different impact
on employees, so bosses have a higher
As people are promoted they don’t
always understand this change in behavior,
Crump said.
Most harassment is subtle and hard to
prove, but that does not make it right,
Crump said. Even though people may not
have intended to offend, they can be held
“The law looks at the impact of the
harassment as well as the intent,” she said.
But regardless of the offense, harass
ment is wrong, Crump said.
“If someone is using their power to force
something, it is abusive.”
Weekend tourney
causes police to up
traffic enforcement
By Josh Funk
Senior Reporter
As 48 teams dribbled their way toward six dif
ferent state championships last weekend, Lincoln
Police made sure they didn’t dribble all over the
The number of fender benders and drunken dri
ving incidents increase dramatically when thou
sands of fans come to town for the state basketball
tournaments, Lincoln Police Sgt. Dave Hamly said.
So this year, police set up a special traffic
enforcement project to curb the problems.
“We want to make people aware of the problem
and get them to drive defensively,” Hamly said.
Fifteen officers were stationed around the Bob
Devaney Sports Center on Friday and Saturday
nights to help alleviate traffic problems.
Problems are identified by looking at statistics
from previous years, Hamly said.
With increased police presence, officers also
can help visitors find their way around town,
Hamly said.
Visitors from out of town staying with college
students also can cause problems, Hamly said, so
police also keep an eye on the campuses.
The state tournament also meant extra duty for
University Police, who were responsible for securi
ty at games, University Police Sgt. Mylo Bushing
Officers were stationed inside the Devaney
Center to make sure there were no fights and to
report any accidents, Bushing said.
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