Monday, February 23, 2015

Are Affluent Libraries More Dangerous Than Poor Libraries?

Here's an interesting question for you to ponder: are libraries in affluent areas (suburbs) more dangerous than libraries in poor areas (disadvantaged urban)?

One trend I've noticed while researching and auditing the incident reports in Illinois libraries for the last two years is that libraries in affluent areas seem to have more problems with incidents of sexual activity, masturbation, child pornography being accessed, and sexually hostile work environments than libraries that are in poor areas without a lot of money.

I have formed a theory that goes something like this:

* Wealthy communities have more funds than they know what to do with, so they pay library management ridiculously large salaries. Example: Orland Park (an affluent southwestern suburb of Chicago) has a library director who makes $189,000/year. That is more than the governor of Illinois is paid. A poor community could never afford to pay a director a salary of $189,000/year. The poor communities have directors who make $60,000/year or so.

* The directors who command salaries like $189,000/year are likely to be radical leftists who toe the ALA's line. These are typically white women who are Baby Boomers and who believe their real mission as a director is to be involved in the ALA's political agenda to "transform communities by transforming libraries". These radicals only seek the highly paid positions…so libraries offering huge salaries for directors end up with one of these rich, white, radical leftist women as a director.

* Poor libraries can't afford one of the rich, white, radical leftist women as a director…and the people who will work for $60,000/year are not people who seem themselves as committed leftists. The people who work for $60,000 can't afford to be so committed to the ALA's political agenda and perhaps they don't see any value to them or their communities to listen to the ALA. There's also a more diverse pool of talent at this level, where the directors are not all white, leftist women. Black library directors exist at the $60,000/year level and it's been my experience that the black and other minority library directors and staff do not tolerate any sexual misconduct or abuse in their libraries. It's only the white, rich, radical leftists who take pride in looking the other way when illegal activity occurs in their libraries. Minority directors DO NOT seem to believe it is part of their mission to allow this garbage to keep happening.

* The affluent communities end up with directors who feel they prove they are enlightened for looking the other way when illegal activity occurs in their libraries, because they want to be so "enlightened" that they allow sexual activity in their libraries as proof that they are not "judging" the people who are using the library as a place for sex. The poor communities in contrast get directors who don't put up with any of this garbage and instead view the people having sex in libraries and doing other illegal things as a problem they want to stamp out.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Do you see how the affluent suburbs acquire radical leftists who want to make some sort of demented point by allowing crimes to be committed, because they feel they prove they are "enlightened" for not wanting to judge the people committing the crimes?

Do you see how the poorer communities are blessed to have directors who have a zero tolerance for crime in their libraries, since these directors do not have the idle free time and the hubris that comes with sky-high salaries (which alienates the rich, white leftists from reality)?

My working theory is that the suburbs end up having more instances of child pornography being accessed, masturbation occurring, and sexual activity in their libraries than the poor urban libraries have and this is all a direct result of the suburban libraries hiring the ALA's "cream of the crop" directors.

Employing ALA acolytes in library management positions has the consequence of creating libraries that allow sex crimes to occur and dangers to children to multiply.

My suggestion is to keep library director salary at around $60,000/year, then maybe the rich, white, leftists who occupy the $189,000/year positions will no longer want to work in libraries—and the negative influence that these women have on communities will be eliminated.


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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Illinois HB 2689 to Protect Librarians from Sexual Harassment

Rep. Peter Breen
Illinois HB 2689 (link) "[c]reates the Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act."  Its sponsor, Rep. Peter Breen (link), designed the bill to, among other things, protect librarians from being sexually harassed and having to work in a hostile work environment that is the direct result of library patrons viewing unfiltered pornography including child pornography.
Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act:  HB 2689 requires internet filters on public library computers to prevent the viewing of hard-core pornography on those computers.  Breen emphatically stated that, “I’ve heard from many moms over the years that adult men are regularly viewing hard-core pornography on public library computers, in full view of children and others.  This is an abuse of taxpayer resources and creates a hostile environment for public library employees and patrons.  No child should have to walk past obscene and abusive material in order to take advantage of the educational opportunities available at their public library.”
No doubt the American Library Association [ALA] and the Illinois Library Association [ILA] will work to see the defeat of this bill because promoting child pornography (link) and "constitutionally protected" pornography (link) trumps protecting librarians from sexual harassment and having to work in a hostile work environment.  Indeed, ALA recently revealed that librarians have never been sexually harassed and likely never will be (link).  To admit otherwise is to admit its own policy applied locally is at fault.

Prediction: the usual excuses will be laid out by ALA/ILA as to why the bill should fail.
  1. It's overbroad, which it is not as it tracks the federal Children's Internet Protection Act [CIPA] law.
  2. It takes away local control, but it actually restores local control from ALA/ILA that has effectively taken away local control by massively pressuring libraries to follow ALA diktat.
  3. It violates freedom of speech, the First Amendment, and intellectual freedom, but CIPA has already been ruled to be constitutional by the US Supreme Court that ruled that pornography may be completely blocked with filters without violating the First Amendment.  See United States v. American Library Association (link), 539 US 194 (2003).  By the way, in Illinois, Internet porn in public libraries is illegal under existing state law (link).
  4. Internet filters do not work well.  The reality is ALA was forced to admit library Internet filters work well (link) and the Federal Communications Commission recently revealed library filters work really well, communities should get to decide whether to use them, and librarians need to reconsider old grudges against filters (link).
Prediction: ILA will order local libraries to crank up library Internet filter strength to block nearly everything possible, having placed handouts at the computers urging patrons to call to oppose the filters.  Or libraries will simply turn off the computers and leave up signs about the draconian HB 2689 that must be defeated, riling up the people to call the legislature to kill the bill.  It's as if ILA controls local community resources and the people managing them because I sure would not want my local library's filters turned up or computers cut off just so some state library association can astroturf fake support.

Both those predictions are easy to make because both have already occurred and have successfully misled people.  Examples and more:
Sponsor Pete Breen is on the right track.  CIPA author Ernest Istook specifically stated how ALA misleads up to a third of American libraries into allowing porn despite the law.  He specifically laid out exactly how ALA misleads people, and no doubt the same misleading tactics will be at work against HB 2689.  He specifically advises legislators to use the federal CIPA model to create similar law like the Illinois state Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act.  So to see how Pete Breen is on the right track, read what the CIPA author said about how ALA misleads and what can be done to stop it:
Did you notice how the CIPA author spoke out on behalf of sexually harassed librarians? "Many librarians complain that if you make pornography freely accessible, oh, and the behaviors that come with it, you create a hostile work environment."

They do complain but you won't hear it in Library Journal or ALA's own American Libraries.  What the CIPA author said about sexually harassed librarians never made it into library media.  They are protecting the very policy that harms communities and creates hostile work environments for librarians.  When they do write about it, they mock it, like calling it "poppycock" (link).  Are you a sexually harassed librarian?  Your library media is working to bury anything that could help you.

It is really good that federal and state legislators are speaking up for sexually harassed librarians.  Bravo, Representative Peter Breen.

Now it's time for the people of Illinois to expect ALA/ILA to promulgate the usual false astroturfing and to stop letting them control your local communities.  If you won't do it for yourselves, do it for the sexually harassed librarians forced to work in hostile work environments—Illinois public libraries.


Exactly as I predicted, the Illinois Library Association has pulled out the exact same tried and true lies to mislead people yet again:

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Librarian Fired For Suggesting Safety Improvements After Rape

A librarian is raped.  As a result, another librarian makes safety suggestions.  Result?  She's demoted then fired.  She's told it wasn't her place to make safety suggestions: "You [sic] job does not include discussion of ... the daily administration of this Library System...."

The case is Kennedy v. Tangipahoa Parish Library, 224 F. 3d 359 (5th Cir. 2000).

Donna KENNEDY, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Pat Sledge, Director of the Tangipahoa Parish Library System, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 99-30277.
United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

August 15, 2000.

Thomas Joseph Hogan, Jr. (argued), Hogan & Hogan, Hammond, LA, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Scott G. Vincent (argued), New Orleans, LA, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before BARKSDALE, BENAVIDES and STEWART, Circuit Judges.

BENAVIDES, Circuit Judge:

Appellant Donna Kennedy ("Kennedy") appeals from the district court's dismissal of her First Amendment cause of action for failure to state a claim, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Because we find that Kennedy has stated a claim and created a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment, we reverse and remand.

I.  Factual and Procedural Background

Kennedy began working at the Tangipahoa Parish Library ("the Library") on March 21, 1995. By all objective criteria, she performed her job well. Over the course of two years, she received five promotions with commensurate pay raises. At the time the Library terminated her, Kennedy served in two managerial positions, Automation Coordinator and Technical Services Supervisor. In Kennedy's June 1997 evaluation, her last before being fired, appellee Pat Sledge ("Sledge"), the Library's director, rated Kennedy's performance overall as "excellent."

The events leading to Kennedy's termination commenced on October 15, 1997. On that day, Virginia Patanella ("Patanella") and her supervisor, branch manager Sannie Bonfiglio ("Bonfiglio"), were working at the Independence branch of the Library. Around 1:00 pm, Bonfiglio called the Library's administrative offices to ask that a replacement worker be sent to the Independence branch; Bonfiglio was departing work early to prepare for her daughter's wedding that evening. The person to whom Bonfiglio spoke in the administrative offices apparently told Bonfiglio to stay at work because she only had a few hours left. But at 3:15, Bonfiglio again called the administrative offices and reported that she was going home. No one arrived to replace Bonfiglio, so Patanella continued working alone.

At 4:00 pm, Archie Dean Forsythe ("Forsythe"), an apparently homeless man with a criminal record and a history of mental illness, entered the Independence branch. Finding no patrons in the library, Forsythe raped Patanella, threatened to kill her, and severely beat her about her head, fracturing several bones in her face. A patron entering the library during the rape summoned an off-duty police officer, Sergeant R.J. Guarena, Jr. ("Sergeant Guarena"), who was grocery shopping across the street. Sergeant Guarena confronted Forsythe while he was pulling up his pants. A struggle ensued and Guarena succeeded in apprehending Forsythe.

The crime, its brutal nature, the dramatic apprehension of Forsythe, and the lack of security at any of the Library's branches left the community in an uproar. By the appellee's own admission, the crime sparked intense media scrutiny and gossip. Responding to these community pressures, the Tangipahoa Parish Council ("Council") sent a letter to Sledge on October 16, 1997, the day after the crime; the letter requested that Sledge detail how she planned to prevent such occurrences in the future.

On October 17, 1997, Kennedy visited Patanella in the hospital. Having been told that Patanella was fine except for some bruises, Kennedy was unprepared for Patanella's true condition.[1] Moved, Kennedy spoke to Patanella about the rape, and Patanella confessed that her main concern was that others not suffer the same fate.[2]

On her way home from the hospital, Kennedy stopped at the Ponchatoula branch, where, upon her arrival, branch manager Lenore Johnson ("Johnson") was hanging up the phone after talking with Sledge. Johnson confided to Kennedy that Sledge had requested help with "damage control" regarding Patanella's rape. As Sledge was ultimately responsible for maintaining the employment of both Bonfiglio, the branch manager who left early in the day with only two hours notice, and the administrative offices' employee who failed to dispatch a replacement for Bonfiglio, Sledge understandably wanted aid in dealing with the fallout. Moreover, Sledge was hoping that the appellee Tangipahoa Parish Library Board of Control ("the Board of Control" or "the Board") would soon approve spending for a building to house the Hammond branch of the Library, and the rape obviously had the potential to jeopardize those plans.[3]

Kennedy became extremely concerned after speaking with Johnson. Kennedy had observed in the past that Sledge had downplayed any events that cast the library in a negative light, and Kennedy feared that de-emphasizing Patanella's rape could have terrible consequences. On October 18, 1997, Kennedy wrote a letter. She hoped that this letter would prompt Sledge and the Board to confront the risks occasioned by the lack of security at the Library branches. In its salient parts, the letter stated:
I would like to suggest to the Library Board and Administration a much needed change in the Tangipahoa Parish Library policy. 
Suggested Policy: There will be at least two library employees present at all times when the Library is open to the public. No library employee (male or female) will be in an unlocked library building alone. Also, two library employees must be present to close the library after it has been open to the public. 
. . . . 
I also venture to suggest, that if it is deemed that there is not enough circulation to support two employees at the Clark and Loranger branches, that these branches be closed and the employees transferred to other branches. 
Please note that this is not a knee-jerk reaction to this hideous crime. Similar changes have been discussed, that I am aware of, due to the drinking and drug activities on the corner down from the Loranger Branch and the distasteful pranks, suspicious characters, and rude and harassing patrons at the Kentwood Branch.[4] 
It is my humble opinion that what happened at the Independence Branch on October 15, 1997 cannot be down played. This event must be addressed and steps taken to prevent a similar act. . . . 
Now is the time for the Library Board and Administration to take a firm stand and address the question: Are we ready to show the Library employees and Tangipahoa Parish residents that we will do everything possible to protect the safety of our Library employees and our Library patrons?
Kennedy signed the letter in her capacity as Automation Coordinator and Technical Services Supervisor and enclosed a copy of part of the Library's Safety Program, which sets forth the Library's policy for dealing with investigations of accidents. Included within this section are the directives "ENCOURAGE people to give their ideas for preventing a similar accident," and "FOLLOW UP to make sure conditions are corrected."

Kennedy mailed the letter to the members of the Board of Control and the Library branch managers. She hand-delivered a copy of the letter to Patanella the day she wrote it.

The following Monday, October 20, 1997, Kennedy attended a meeting called by Sledge at the Amite branch. At the meeting, Sledge reprimanded those in attendance for personally attacking her. Specifically, Sledge singled out Anne Ellzey. Sledge then indicated that she had spoken with Patanella, and that Patanella primarily desired that the Library employees stop gossiping about the rape. Remembering Patanella's plea that no other librarians work alone, Kennedy ventured a comment that the situation was not about Sledge, but rather about Patanella and the safety of the patrons and employees at the Library.

After the meeting, Kennedy asked to speak with Sledge. Kennedy then showed Sledge the letter. Sledge perused it and remarked that it was well written. The encounter was unremarkable, and Kennedy departed to complete her work for that day in the usual manner.

Sledge answered the Council's request for policy changes on October 20, 1997 with a 10-step plan designed to heighten security. Sledge's proposal included a provision insisting that two employees be present at any Library branch open to the public, though the record does not reveal whether Sledge incorporated Kennedy's idea or thought of it independently.

Three days later, on October 23, 1997, the Board of Control held a meeting. Security matters were not on the agenda, but Board member Howard G. Ridgel ("Ridgel") broached the topic. Board chairman Edward B. Dufreche attempted to postpone the issue, arguing that more time was necessary to examine all the options. Ridgel urged the Board members to confront the problem and mentioned that Kennedy's letter had also encouraged the Board not to gloss over the rape and the safety concerns it highlighted. The Board members then voted to address the security issue and adopted Sledge's 10-step plan at the meeting.[5]

That afternoon, Sledge penned a letter demoting Kennedy and stripping her of all her supervisory duties. Though Sledge and the Board of Control concede that Sledge demoted Kennedy in response to her letter, the announcement of this demotion criticized Kennedy in general terms:
It is with disappointment that I recognize and accept the fact that you and I no longer share the same vision of the future for the Tangipahoa Parish Library System. 
It has become apparent that you have assumed far too much authority for your position as Automation Coordinator and Technical Services Supervisor. Your assigned role does not include discussing opening and closing of library branches, nor does include [sic] discussing with other employees what I, as the appointed Director, do correctly or, in you [sic] opinion, incorrectly. 
. . . . 
You [sic] job does not include discussion of personnel, the daily administration of this Library System nor meeting with business representatives[6] that are not directly concerned with your departments, nor writing derogative comments about local communities.
Rather than delivering the demotion letter to Kennedy personally or at work, Sledge mailed the letter by certified mail to three addresses in Kennedy's personnel file. On October 30, 1997, fully a week after Sledge composed and sent the demotion letter, Kennedy's father called Kennedy at work to tell her that he had declined to sign for a certified letter for her from the Library. On October 31, 1997, Kennedy, who was familiar with the Library's protocol of delivering bad news by certified mail, called Sledge to find out what the letter said. Sledge refused to speak with Kennedy on the phone, but Sledge allowed that she would send a copy of the demotion letter to Kennedy at work on November 3, 1997. Kennedy read the letter on November 3, and thereby became informed of her demotion, more than 10 days after its occurrence.

Sledge made an appointment for November 10, 1997 to speak with Kennedy about her job. Sledge's stated purposes for the meeting were to discuss the reasons for Kennedy's demotion and her new job responsibilities, to agree upon a lower wage, and to assess Kennedy's willingness to continue working at the library in a non-supervisory capacity. The meeting, however, never occurred. On November 10, 1997, Kennedy showed up for the meeting with a tape recorder and her father, whom she wanted along as a witness. Sledge, meanwhile, had asked Cindy Camp to join the meeting, unbeknownst to Kennedy. Sledge refused to permit Kennedy to record the meeting or to have her father present as a witness. Sledge then fired Kennedy.[7]

Kennedy filed a grievance with the personnel committee of the Library. The Board of Control upheld the personnel committee's decision in favor of Sledge on February or March 17, 1997. Kennedy then filed this present action on March 26, 1998.

During a hearing on December 2, 1998, the district court denied Kennedy's motion to amend her complaint and granted Sledge's motion to dismiss on grounds of qualified immunity. Ignoring the court's order, Kennedy filed a first amended complaint on December 7, 1998. The district court permitted the clerk of the court to place the first amended complaint in the record.

Sledge, who apparently was unsure of the significance of the first amended complaint, and the Board then moved to dismiss the first amended complaint for failure to state a claim, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, which motion the district court granted, entering its final order on February 23, 1999.[8]

II.  Standard of Review

III.  Failure to State a Claim

IV.  Qualified Immunity

V.  Conclusion

We hold, as a matter of law, that Kennedy spoke on a matter of public concern, and therefore, that her first amended complaint states a claim for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. We further hold that the district court should have granted Kennedy leave to amend her complaint and should have considered her first amended complaint. We are thus constrained to reverse the district court's dismissal of the case on these grounds and remand for a new trial on the merits.

We further hold that Kennedy has alleged a violation of a clearly established constitutional right and raised a fact issue as to whether Sledge acted in an objectively reasonable manner in demoting Kennedy in response to her letter. We therefore reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment on this ground and remand for a trial on the merits.


[1] One newspaper described Patanella's appearance on Friday, October 17, as follows: "Her face [had] . . . two deep purple/pink bruises where eyes should be. Her eyes had just barely slit open a little that morning for the first time since the attack, she said. She had stitches on the side of her head, and her hair was stiff with dried blood." Gloria Lupo, I'm Going to Kill You, Says the Attacker, The Amite Tangi Digest, Oct. 22, 1997, at 1. 
[2] Indeed, Patanella said the same thing in The Amite Tangi Digest article. Id. at 1 ("I don't want it to happen to anyone else. I hope no one will have to be left alone in the libraries again."). 
[3] The Board did in fact approve the resolution to purchase a building for the Hammond branch on November 7, 1997. See Sharyn C. Brecheen, Parish Library Wants to Buy Permanent Home for Hammond Branch, The Amite Tangi Digest, Nov. 12, 1997. 
[4] These references relate to an incident in which a patron sat in the Kentwood branch and stared at the librarians for hours on end. Shortly thereafter, the librarians found a dead cat in their drop box. 
[5] A newspaper article detailing the October 23, 1997 Board of Control meeting reports that Ridgel mentioned Kennedy's letter. See Sylvia Schon, Libraries Take Safety Measures, Daily Star, Oct. 24, 1997, at 1. The article also quotes Kennedy telling the Board of Control, "I appreciate the fact that Buddy [Ridgel] brought this up. We're all wondering what's going to be happening. It's good to let the employees and the public know that you're talking about this and doing something about it." Id
[6] This is apparently a reference to an incident in which a representative of a security company talked to Kennedy about where he should place a cable. As the location of cables for the computer network was within Kennedy's authority as Technical Services Supervisor, she was the correct Library representative to answer the security company representative's questions. Kennedy's conduct in this regard presented no problem to Sledge until Kennedy mentioned at the October 23, 1997 Board of Control meeting that she had spoken with a representative of the security company. 
[7] The parties dispute the facts surrounding this meeting. Kennedy claims that Sledge planned to fire her on October 23, the date of the Board meeting. Kennedy surmises that Sledge demoted Kennedy because of the letter, waited two weeks as required by Library policy, and then fired her. Kennedy supports her inference with the fact that Sledge had prepared Kennedy's final paycheck prior to the meeting. Sledge, on the other hand, claims that when Kennedy indicated her desire to record the meeting, Sledge promptly fired her for insubordination. 
[8] The record is in an unfortunate state that leaves unknown the true grounds for the district court's dismissal. Appellees styled their motion to dismiss as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. The district court stated its reasons for the dismissal from the bench during oral argument, but neither party requested that a court reporter make a record of oral argument. Moreover, the district court's judgment relates the grounds of dismissal only as being those set forth during oral argument. As we lack any objective account of the district court's reasoning for the dismissal, we must conduct both Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 56 analyses before we may properly reach our conclusion that the district court's dismissal warrants reversal and remand for a trial on the merits. 

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hostile Work Environment in Libraries by Jenner & Block

Civil Liability for an Alleged Hostile Work Environment Related to Patron or Employee Internet Use

Memorandum Jenner & Block

February 2, 2004



Theresa Chmara

Daniel Mach

Subject: Civil Liability for an Alleged Hostile Work Environment Related to Patron or Employee Internet Use

The Freedom to Read Foundation has asked us to evaluate a library's potential liability for an alleged hostile work environment created by a patron's or employee's use of the Internet.

Before we begin that analysis, we must caution that this memorandum is merely a general discussion of these issues, and is not an opinion letter.  Because laws differ from state to state, this memorandum necessarily cannot serve as the basis for legal judgments for any library.  Additionally, the law related to Internet use and filtering is changing rapidly as new legislation is adopted and new court challenges are filed.  A library that offers Internet access should seek legal advice for an analysis of its own particular situation and the current laws of its own state and jurisdiction.

Federal civil rights laws and many states' parallel civil rights laws afford employees the "right to work in an environment free from discriminatory intimidation, ridicule and insult." 1  Some individuals have argued that access to materials over the Internet that are offensive due to their sexually explicit nature or messages regarding race, religion or ethnicity may subject a library to liability for a hostile environment under these antidiscrimination laws.  Indeed, the Loudoun County, Virgnia [sic] Library Board of Trustees, which was sued for installing filtering software on library computers, raised as one justification for installing the software the possibility that Internet use could create a hostile work environment.  To date, no published judicial opinion addresses such a hostile environment claim brought by a library employee on this basis.  There have, however, been administrative complaints filed in Minnesota and Chicago by librarians alleging a hostile work environment.  In both cases, the complaints were resolved out of court.

Similarly, to date, no published judicial opinion addresses the legality under the First Amendment of a library's installation of filtering software to avoid such hostile environment claims.  Courts have held that there is a First Amendment right to receive information. 2  It is a fundamental principle of First Amendment jurisprudence that a person has a constitutional right to send and receive non-obscene material that may be offensive to others. 3  It is equally fundamental that the government cannot ban speech merely because it is offensive to others. 4  In analogous cases challenging restrictions on access to the library, courts have held that the particular public library whose policy was under consideration was considered a limited public forum, open to the public for "the communication of the written word." 5  Because the library was considered a limited public forum, it could not implement a content-based regulation or rule restricting access to speech, unless the rule restricting access to speech was justified by a compelling government interest and there was no less restrictive alternative for achieving that interest. 6

Libraries are thus in the position of having a legal obligation to provide a non-hostile work environment, and also to ensure that patrons and employees can fully exercise their constitutional rights to receive information available or accessible in the library.  To date no court has addressed the possible tension regarding this issue. 7  This memorandum highlights some of the legal doctrines and cases that may be relevant to this issue, and provides general guidance to libraries on how to ensure that patrons can fully exercise their First Amendment rights without creating a hostile work environment for library employees.  The law is, however, evolving in this field and may vary among jurisdictions.  Legal counsel should be consulted in all instances when developing specific policies and responding to complaints.

A.  Can Materials on the Internet Be Sufficient to Create a Hostile Environment?

In order to win a harassment claim based on a hostile environment, a plaintiff must prove that: (1) he or she is a member of a protected group; (2) he or she was subject to pervasive or severe harassment that unreasonably interfered with work performance because of his or her membership in a protected group, e.g., sex, race or religion; 8 (3) both a reasonable person and the employee would view the behavior as harassment; and (4) the employer should be held legally responsible for the environment.

There is no clear answer as to whether an employee's viewing of materials on the Internet alone could constitute a hostile environment.  No judicial opinions address this precise question. 9  General principles established in other hostile environment cases provide guidance, however, and strongly suggest that viewing materials on the Internet alone should not constitute a hostile work environment. 10  First, in order to be actionable, harassment must be either "sufficiently severe or pervasive" as "to alter the conditions of [the victim's] employment and create an abusive working environment." 11  In making that determination, courts look to the totality of the circumstances - including the frequency of the conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating or is a mere offensive utterance, and whether it unreasonably interferes with the employee's work. 12  Furthermore, both the employee and a reasonable person must view the conduct as sufficiently severe or pervasive. 13  Thus, conduct that is merely offensive, such as the "mere utterance of an . . . epithet which engenders offensive feelings in an employee," is not actionable conduct 14 [sic].  Nor is isolated or sporadic conduct that is not severe and which does not sufficiently alter the work environment. 15  Where the offending conduct consists only of visual images that are not permanent fixtures in the work place, but are intermittent and temporary, a judge would probably find the conduct not sufficiently severe or pervasive. 16  Particular cases may depend on fact-specific circumstances.

In those cases that have found liability based, in part, on the presence of visual images, the images were typically coupled with additional severe and pervasive sexually discriminatory verbal or physical conduct. 17  For example, in Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 760 F. Supp. 1486 (M.D. Fla. 1991), in addition to visual material, there was graffiti directed at the employee, sexually explicit material placed in the employee's personal toolbox, and co-workers repeatedly made comments of a sexual nature to the employee and her co-workers.  Other women were also subject to unwelcome physical touching and degrading comments.  In Andrews v. City of Philadelphia, 895 F.2d 1469 (3d Cir. 1990), in addition to sexually explicit pictures, the employees were repeatedly referred to by co-workers in an offensive and obscene manner, one employee was sexually propositioned by a supervisor, sexually explicit materials were placed in one employee's personal desk, the victims' cars were vandalized, threatening and obscene phone calls were made to employees' homes, and one employee was severely burned as the result of lime being placed inside her shirt.  But see West v. Philadelphia Elec. Co., 45 F.3d 744 (3d Cir. 1995) (finding harassment predominantly consisting of frequent presence of pictures of Ku Klux Klan and nooses and other racially offensive pictures in work place, although evidence of racially harassing conversations also was present). 18  Thus, while few, if any, cases directly address the question of whether temporary visual images alone could create a hostile environment, the current case law strongly suggests that the presence of actual conduct directed at the employee is required to create a hostile environment.  The context in which the offending conduct takes place is key. 19  Further, the case law requires that the behavior must be severe or pervasive. 20

B.  Liability of Library for Patron's Behavior. 21

Another hurdle to liability depends on whether a library can be held accountable to its employee for behavior of a non-employee.  The law on this subject is relatively new and undeveloped.  It is clear that an employer can be held liable for the actions of a non-employee where the employer knew or should have known of the offending behavior and ratifies or acquiesces in the behavior by failing to take prompt remedial action. 22

Although the law on this subject is evolving, current authority suggests that two important factors must also be evaluated in assessing an employer's potential liability for a non-employee's harassing behavior - (1) the extent of the employer's control over the non-employee harasser; and (2) any other legal responsibility the employer may have with respect to the conduct of the non-employee. 23  A library's First Amendment legal obligations to its patrons should be considered an important factor by any court evaluating legal liability.  It is difficult to predict what effect this countervailing consideration would have, given that few, if any, courts have considered employer liability where there were important First Amendment obligations to non-employees or where the employer operated a limited public forum.  Plainly, however, a library could not be held liable for a patron's actions unless it had some notice of the alleged harassment.  Once a library receives notice from an employee of potential harassment, the library must take immediate steps to investigate the complaint and seek legal counsel.

C.  First Amendment Concerns.

Very few courts have addressed the tension between hostile environment claims and the First Amendment.  Those that have considered these issues have reached differing conclusions.  While subject to much academic criticism, several courts have rejected First Amendment defenses raised in hostile environment cases.  For example, in Jacksonville Shipyards, 760 F. Supp. 1486, and Baty v. Willamette Indus., Inc., 985 F. Supp. 987 (D. Kan. 1997), aff'd, 172 F.3d 1232 (10th Cir. 1999), courts rejected arguments that employers could not be held liable for discrimination because the hostile work environment was based on written and oral comments protected by the First Amendment.  The Baty court relied heavily on Supreme Court opinions citing Title VII as an example of a federal statute that does not regulate speech in violation of the First Amendment because it is a content-neutral regulation of conduct. 24  The courts also refused to treat the speech at issue as constitutionally protected, deeming the pictures in combination with verbal harassment directed at the employee to constitute illegal discriminatory conduct.  Jacksonville Shipyards, 760 F. Supp. at 1535.  Such reasoning is unlikely to be applied to public libraries in that the access of patrons to non-obscene materials are constitutionally protected.  Further, the viewing of images on the Internet, without more, is unlikely to be viewed as conduct, rather than speech.

Courts have also recognized that banning constitutionally protected sexually explicit materials, which an employee finds offensive, violates the First Amendment.  In Stanley v. Lawson Co., 993 F. Supp. 1084 (N.D. Ohio 1997), the court addressed claims by a convenience store employee that the job requirement that she sell sexually oriented magazines created a hostile environment in violation of federal and state anti-discrimination laws.  The court rejected her claims on several bases, including that the removal of the magazines would violate the First Amendment.

Courts have also found certain content-based policies and rules aimed at preventing sexual harassment to be violations of the First Amendment.  In Johnson v. County of Los Angeles Fire Dep't, 865 F. Supp. 1430 (C.D. Cal. 1994), a court held that a rule prohibiting Playboy in the firehouse in furtherance of a sexual harassment policy violated the First Amendment, where the material was for private use only and was read in private spaces or shared consensually. 25  In Urofsky v. Allen, 995 F. Supp. 634 (E.D. Va. Feb. 26, 1998), rev'd, 167 F.3d 191 (4th Cir. 1999), vacated on reh'g en banc (4th Cir. June 3, 1999), the court ruled that a Virginia statute restricting state employees' access to sexually explicit materials on the Internet was unconstitutional.  In this case the court based its reasoning, in part, on the fact that content-neutral sexual discrimination laws already addressed any problems created by such images fostering a hostile environment.

When reviewing the above cases, a public library must keep in mind that it differs from all of the employers in the above situations in that it has an affirmative duty to protect the First Amendment rights of its patrons.

D.  Minimizing Liability.

A library can and should adopt, with the advice of counsel, a harassment policy that makes clear that it does not condone, encourage, or tolerate the harassment of employees by other employees or by patrons through the use of any means, whether or not those means include images from the Internet.  The library also should establish procedures for addressing complaints of a hostile work environment by an employee, and these procedures should be easily accessible and made well-known to employees.  Any complaints should immediately be directed for investigation to an employment counselor or legal counsel.  Individual cases are likely to be very fact-specific and must be evaluated based on the particular facts of the case.  Additionally, the law may have changed or there may be regional differences which must be reviewed.  A library can also take steps to minimize employees' exposure to potentially offensive Internet images by locating Internet terminals in more private areas of the library or by using privacy screens on Internet computer terminals.

Filtering software does not appear to be a solution to problems raised by potentially offensive Internet images.  Filtering cannot guarantee that offensive materials will be blocked.  Nor can filters prevent employees or patrons from using other materials to harass an employee.  Further, the use of currently available filtering software by public libraries poses serious First Amendment concerns because such filtering would almost certainly restrict adults, older minors or even younger minors from constitutionally protected material. 26

A library considering hostile work environment or filtering policies should determine, however, whether there are any current laws regarding its obligations by consulting with legal counsel.

1 Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 65 (1986).

2 Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844, 874 (1997).

3 Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234, 256 (2002); Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. at 874-76; United States v. X-Citement Video, Inc., 513 U.S. 64, 72-73 (1994).

4 Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989); Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988).

5 Kreimer v. Bureau of Police, 958 F.2d 1242, 1259 (3d Cir 1992).

6 See, e.g., Perry Educ. Ass'n v. Perry Local Educators' Ass'n, 460 U.S. 37, 46 (1983).

7 Established law addressing private employers, while instructive, may not be directly applicable to public libraries because of their status as limited public fora.

8 The Supreme Court recently emphasized that federal antidiscrimination laws "do[] not prohibit all verbal or physical harassment in the workplace; [they] are directed only at 'discriminat[ion] . . . because of . . . sex,'" or other protected characteristics, such as race or religion.  Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Servs. Inc., 523 U.S. 75, 80 (1998).

9 In Urofsky v. Allen, 995 F. Supp. 634 (E.D. Va. 1998), rev'd, 167 F.3d 191 (4th cir. 1999), vacated on reh'g en banc (4th Cir. June 3, 1999), the court recognized that material on the Internet, just as books and calendars, could offend workers and that pre-existing content-neutral civil rights laws protected employees against such harassment "cut[ting] across media to include print displays of sexually hostile material."  Id. at 643.  The court, however, rejected the argument that a female employee's voluntary decision to access sexually explicit material on the Internet could be construed as sexual hostility directed against that employee.  Id. at 640 n.6.

10 These issues are not limited to use of the Internet.  Similar concerns can arise from other printed material available in the library or material brought in by patrons from outside the library.

11 Meritor Sav. Bank, 477 U.S. at 67 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted, alteration in original).  The EEOC defines hostile environment sexual harassment as "[u]nwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature" that unreasonably interferes with the individual's work performance.  EEOC Guidelines, 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11(a).  [NOTE: The following was in an earlier version of this memorandum: (EEOC Guidelines are not binding on courts, but are often looked to as persuasive authority, General Elec. Co. v. Gilbert, 429 U.S. 125, 141-42 (1976)).]

12 Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 23 (1993).

13 Id. at 21-22.

14 Id. at 21 (quoting Meritor, 477 U.S. at 67, alteration in original).

15 See, e.g., Baskerville v. Culligan Int'l Co., 50 F.3d 428, 430-31 (7th Cir. 1995).

16 In other contexts the Supreme Court has minimized the effect of temporary images from which a viewer may avert his or her eyes.  For example, in Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205, 210-11 (1975), the Supreme Court ruled that an ordinance prohibiting films containing nudity in drive-in theaters was unconstitutional.  The Court reasoned that viewers passing drive-in theaters on the street or sidewalk were not captive audiences in that they could easily avert their eyes to avoid further bombardment of their sensibilities; see also, e.g., United States v. Playboy Entm't Group, Inc., 529 U.S. 803, 813 (2000); Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 21 (1971).

17 Courts have found that policies prohibiting the private reading of constitutionally protected sexually explicit material in furtherance of sexual harassment policies violate the First Amendment.  Johnson v. County of Los Angeles Fire Dep't, 865 F. Supp. 1430 (C.D. Cal. 1994) (discussed infra in section C).

18 Additionally, courts have held that mere language and epithets unaccompanied by other action, which are infrequent and not deeply offensive, are not sufficient to create a hostile environment.  See, e.g., Baskerville, 50 F.3d at 430-31.  On the other hand, a constant and steady stream of vulgar and offensive epithets can constitute a hostile environment.  See, e.g., Gross v. Burggraf Constr. Co., 53 F.3d 1531, 1539 (10th Cir. 1995).

19 Typically, in cases finding a hostile work environment, the sexually explicit visual material is both pervasive throughout the work environment and has no relation to the employer's business.  Where the material that offended an employee was related to the employer's business, courts have found that there was no harassment.  See, e.g[sic], Stanley v. Lawson Co., 993 F. Supp. 1084 (N.D. Ohio 1997) (discussed infra in section C.).

20 These cases also highlight the general principle that the civil rights laws are not general anti-offense statutes intended to eliminate conduct that employees do not like.  Rather, the laws are designed solely to eliminate discriminatory treatment of employees, based on a protected class, e.g., gender or race.  Oncale, 523 U.S. at 79-82 (Title VII is not a general civility code).

21 It is well-established that an employer may be liable for a supervisor's conduct or for a coworker's conduct that creates a hostile environment.  Meritor Savings Bank, 477 U.S. at 69-72; EEOC Guidelines, 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11(c) & (d).  Important factors in assessing employer liability for agents' conduct are whether the employer had a hostile environment policy, clear procedures for victims to raise complaints, and whether the employer took effective remedial steps to protect victims and eliminate harassment.  Baskerville, 50 F.3d at 431-32.  The Supreme Court has held that an employer can be held vicariously liable for hostile environment harassment by supervisor with authority over a complaining employee.  Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998); Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742 (1998).  The Court held that an employer defending an allegation of vicarious liability (an allegation that the employer should be liable even if the employer did not know of the hostile environment created by the supervising employee) can raise two affirmative defenses: (a) that the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior; and (b) that the plaintiff employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or otherwise failed to avoid harm.

22 See, e.g., Rodriguez-Hernandez v. Miranda-Velez, 132 F.3d 848, 854-55 (1st Cir. 1998); Folkerson v. Circus Circus Enterprises, Inc., 107 F.3d 754 (9th Cir. 1997); Powell v. Las Vegas Hilton Corp., 841 F. Supp. 1024 (D. Nev. 1992); EEOC Guidelines, 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11(e).

23 EEOC Guidelines, 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11(e).

24 Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476, 487, 489 (1993).

25 This case suggests that offensive, but legally protected material, viewed with the use of a privacy screen or on computers in private locations, should not be deemed to create a hostile environment.

26 See Memorandum to American Library Association from Jenner & Block, 2003, regarding libraries' liabilities for using or failing to use filtering software.  [Internet Filtering in Public Libraries.]  Under revision.

Links to non-ALA sites have been provided because these sites may have information of interest.  Neither the American Library Association nor the Freedom to Read Foundation necessarily endorses the views expressed or the facts presented on these sites; and furthermore, ALA and FTRF do not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available on these sites.

Related Files

Civil Liability for an Alleged Hostile Work Environment Related to Patron or Employee Internet Use (PDF File)

© Copyright 1998-2004, American Library Association

The American Library Association is providing information and services on the web in furtherance of its non-profit and tax-exempt status.  Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this website and related graphics is hereby granted for private, non-commercial and education purposes only, provided that the above copyright notice appears with the following notice: This document may be reprinted and distributed for non-commercial and educational purposes only, and not for resale.  No resale use may be made of material on this website at any time.  All other rights reserved.


Notes: Hyperlinks added, dead links removed.  Formatting of end note numerals changed.  Inconsistent formatting of legal citations in original.  Colors in original.  Copyright notice is from as copyright notice on the source page went to a dead link.

Observation:  Jenner & Block has been proven wrong in the US Supreme Court so this memorandum of theirs is provided for what it's worth, especially since it appears to hold forth issues already asked and answered.  For example, pornography (called "constitutionally protected material" since using the word "pornography" is anathema to the effort to promote it in libraries or to hide that it is responsible for the sexual harassment of librarians, and notice Jenner & Block did not use that word) is not protected by the First Amendment in public libraries but this memo implies otherwise.  Worse, Jenner & Block recommends a means to reduce liability that the US Supreme Court found makes the problems worse, and it flat out advises against using filters.  Filtering software has vastly improved since this memo was written, and even ALA itself has admitted filters work well.  Also, important issues such as constructive discharge and librarians who have successfully sued for sexual harassment are not discussed.

URL of this page:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sample Sexual Harassment Policy

Sexual Harassment

The Facts About Sexual Harassment

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) defines sexual harassment as harassment based on sex or of a sexual nature; gender harassment; and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.  The definition of sexual harassment includes many forms of offensive behavior, including harassment of a person of the same gender as the harasser.  The following is a partial list of types of sexual harassment:
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
  • Actual or threatened retaliation
  • Leering; making sexual gestures; or displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters
  • Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, or jokes
  • Sexual comments including graphic comments about an individual’s body; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; or suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations
  • Physical touching or assault, as well as impeding or blocking movements

Employers’ Obligations

All employers must take the following actions against harassment:
  • Take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring. If harassment does occur, take effective action to stop any further harassment and to correct any effects of the harassment.
  • Develop and implement a sexual harassment prevention policy with a procedure for employees to make complaints and
  • for the employer to investigate complaints. Policies should include provisions to:
  • Fully inform the complainant of his/her rights and any obligations to secure those rights.
  • Fully and effectively investigate. The investigation must be thorough, objective, and complete. Anyone with information regarding the matter should be interviewed. A determination must be made and the results communicated to the complainant, to the alleged harasser and, as appropriate, to all others directly concerned.
  • Take prompt and effective corrective action if the harassment allegations are proven. The employer must take appropriate action to stop the harassment and ensure it will not continue. The employer must also communicate to the complainant that action has been taken to stop the harassment from recurring. Finally, appropriate steps must be taken to remedy the complainant’s damages, if any.
  • Post the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) employment poster (DFEH - 162) in the workplace (available through the DFEH publications line [916] 478-7201 or Web site).
  • Distribute an information sheet on sexual harassment to all employees. An employer may either distribute this pamphlet (DFEH 185)
  • or develop an equivalent document that meets the requirements of Government Code section 12950(b). This pamphlet may be duplicated in any quantity. However, this pamphlet is
  • not to be used in place of a sexual harassment prevention policy, which all employers are required to have.
  • All employees should be made aware of the seriousness of violations of the sexual harassment policy and must be cautioned against using peer pressure to discourage harassment victims from complaining.
  • Employers who do business in California and employ 50 or more part-time or full-time employees must provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training every two years to each supervisory employee and to all new supervisory employees within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position.
A program to eliminate sexual harassment from the workplace is not only required by law, but is the most practical way for an employer to avoid or limit liability if harassment should occur despite preventive efforts.

Employer Liability

All employers, regardless of the number of employees, are covered by the harassment section of the FEHA. Employers are generally liable for harassment by their supervisors or agents. Harassers, including both supervisory and non-supervisory personnel, may be held personally liable for harassing an employee or coworker or for aiding and abetting harassment.

Additionally, the law requires employers to take “all reasonable steps to prevent harassment from occurring.” If an employer has failed to take such preventive measures, that employer can be held liable for the harassment. A victim may be entitled to damages, even though no employment opportunity has been denied and there is no actual loss of pay or benefits.

In addition, if an employer knows or should have known that a non-employee (e.g. client or customer) has sexually harassed an employee, applicant, or person providing services for the employer and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action, the employer may be held liable for the actions of the non-employee.

An employer might avoid liability if
  • the harasser is not in a position of authority, such as a lead, supervisor, manager or agent;
  • the employer had no knowledge of the harassment;
  • there was a program to prevent harassment; and
  • once aware of any harassment, the employer took immediate and appropriate corrective action to stop the harassment.

Filing a Complaint

Employees or job applicants who believe that they have been sexually harassed may file a complaint of discrimination with DFEH within one year of the harassment.

DFEH serves as a neutral fact-finder and attempts to help the parties voluntarily resolve disputes.
If DFEH finds sufficient evidence to establish that discrimination occurred and settlement efforts fail, the Department may file a formal accusation. The accusation will lead to either a public hearing before the Fair Employment and Housing Commission or a lawsuit filed by DFEH on behalf of the complaining party.

If the Commission finds that discrimination has occurred, it can order remedies including:
  • Fines or damages for emotional distress from each employer or person found to have violated the law
  • Hiring or reinstatement
  • Back pay or promotion
  • Changes in the policies or practices of the involved employer
Employees can also pursue the matter through a private lawsuit in civil court after a complaint has been filed with DFEH and a Right-to-Sue Notice has been issued.

For more information, see publication DFEH-159 “Guide for Complainants and Respondents.”

For more information, contact DFEH toll free at
(800) 884-1684
Sacramento area & out-of-state at (916) 478-7200 
TTY number at (800) 700-2320
or visit our Web site at

In accordance with the California Government Code and ADA requirements, this publication can be made available in Braille, large print, computer disk, or tape cassette as
a disability-related reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability. To discuss how to receive a copy of this publication in an alternative format, please contact DFEH at the numbers above.

State of California

Department of Fair Employment & Housing

DFEH-185 (11/07)

Source of all of the above, emphasis in original: 
Reprinted as a example of sexual harassment policy on a state level.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Never Happened, Never Will, Says ALA

ALA saying sexual harassment
never happened, never will.
18 NOVEMBER 2013


I’m Deborah Caldwell-Stone.  I am an attorney employed by the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association.

Um, I have thought carefully about what I might say tonight, um, and I could go tit for tat, challenging some of the conclusions that have been offered to you about the legal authorities that govern Internet access in libraries and hostile work environment.  I will only tell you, and um be brief about it, that it's far more complex than it's being represented here tonight.  In fact, the libraries that were sued for hostile work environment settled the cases.  They weren’t forced to pay any money.  Um, the settlement was uh reached with a mutual agreement with the librarians involved to get rid of the lawsuit and both, uh, in fact, both in Minneapolis and in Birmingham the EEOC and the Department of Justice declined to sue on behalf of the librarians.

Hostile work environment is a very fact-based lawsuit.  I’m sure your legal counsel can tell you that.  You must have very strict, uh, standards to bring a lawsuit.  You have to be targeted because you are part of a protected class based on race, sex, ethnicity or religion.  Um, the harassment must be a result of your membership in the protected class.  So these are far more complex lawsuits than, uh, is being represented here.  And there've only been three of them over time, over the last twenty years of Internet access in libraries.

So I encourage you to get good legal consultation on these facts, uh, uh, um, about these things.  We’re happy to assist, um, but I’m sure that there're other attorneys who can assist you as well.

I do want to reiterate that I work with libraries on developing policies on a regular basis.  You have very strong policies, they're very child protective, they're respective of your, uh, users’ rights to access the Internet and the library materials under the First Amendment, and there are First Amendment rights that accrue to library users.  And, um, I want to, uh, just express my, uh, my respect and my appreciation for your professionalism in all of this.

Thank you.

[END TIME 7:22]


[Note:  Because no one else provides such information, it is me about whom she is speaking, the very reason she felt the need to discuss "conclusions that have been offered to you about the legal authorities that govern Internet access in libraries and hostile work environment."  ALA is involved in three lawsuits seeking to silence me from speaking about sexual harassment of librarians, among other things.  Some of that involvement includes the destruction of evidence.  My opinion, of course, but based on physical evidence.]

Friday, February 6, 2015

How Libraries Harm Themselves with "Crisis Managers" (Instead of Customer and Community Service)

The ongoing Orland Park Public Library (OPPL) child porn scandal is an excellent case study that illustrates how a "crisis management" mentality employed by library staff harms not only the community but also the library itself in the end. Here, internal incident reports uncovered in 2013 revealed that for many years OPPL management was aware of illegal and sexual activity happening in this library (but its director, Mary Weimar, chose not to call the police). This included child pornography being accessed in the OPPL and men masturbating openly and accosting women and children sexually in this facility. This library believed it could keep these incidents under wraps and never expected the reports to be uncovered in Freedom of Information requests.

When the Orland Park community heard about what was going on and spoke out against this, the Mayor called for the library to start filtering its Internet to block illegal content and discourage further crimes. The OPPL's highly-paid spokesman, Bridget Bittman, aggressively lied to the news media in print, TV, and radio interviews as part of a "crisis management strategy" that largely maligned and attacked the library's critics (instead of addressing the child porn, masturbation, and other sexual incidents in the OPPL). The community was concerned for the safety of children in the library, but Bittman shifted into pure damage control mode…then escalated that into outright lies that seem to have been intended to distract the public from the OPPL's own FOIA-able incident reports.

Since the OPPL to this day has no explanation for why police were not called immediately when child porn was accessed in this library, Bittman tried to change the conversation and counted on a complicit media to never ask her or library management any tough questions about the disastrous decisions made in the OPPL.

Bittman later bragged about her public relations efforts at a "crisis communications workshop" sponsored by the American Library Association and held at the Burr Ridge RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Libraries) videoconferencing location in December 2013, where she (and OPPL director Mary Weimar) taught around 100 other public library employees how to, essentially, cover up bad things that happen in public libraries and scare away critics and members of the public who discover what's been going on.

This is what the ALA calls "crisis management": lying to the public and counting on the fact that most people will believe anything that the library tells them, whether it is true or not. It is shameful. When something terrible happens at a public library, management should own up to its mistakes and take concrete steps to ensure children are never harmed in that library again. Library management should not follow the OPPL example…which was to aggressively lie to the public and lash out childishly at critics, hoping that eventually people would get sick of the story and stop listening or caring.

Public libraries occupy a default place of trust in the hearts and minds of most Americans. That's largely because people coast-to-coast have fond memories of libraries and librarians from their childhoods. Most people remember walking on a class field trip to the local library or feeling excited when signing up for their first library card and checking out some Dr. Seuss or Peter Rabbit. So, it's difficult for Americans to think about the local public library being a dangerous place for children here in the year 2015. This is like imagining the local swimming hole where they played as kids now being infested by toothsome, hungry sharks. How could that happen at the place where they had so much fun when they were young? But, some libraries are just not the safe places they used to be thirty or more years ago and the American Library Association is mostly to blame for that.

The ALA counts on a positive reservoir of warm, fuzzy feelings that Americans have for libraries being an ace-in-the-hole when it's discovered that something bad has happened in a public library. In fact, ALA "crisis management" publications remind library employees that the public will generally believe what library management says, because people's brains (and hearts) default to believing the library. "Why would the library lie?" is an assumption that people have been conditioned to make. Emotionally, people think back to the kindly librarians they remember in the 1970s and 1980s and know that those wonderful ladies would never lie. Certainly they would never lie about sex in the library or anything harming children. So, people want to believe that librarians working in the year 2015 wouldn't lie either and would never allow children to be harmed in a library.

But, library management today does lie…and Orland Park is a case study in that. Bittman was asked by the ALA to speak at not one, but TWO, separate "crisis management workshops." She was forced to cancel her second appearance in October 2014 because reports of her first presentation in December 2013 were made public and her documented pattern of lies became too embarrassing for the ALA. This all included:

* Bittman lying to print media in October and November of 2013 to discredit and defame a mother of two who witnessed a man sexually arousing himself at an OPPL computer; here, Bittman engaged in a strategy of painting the woman who complained as a liar whose "story changes over time." Discrediting witnesses and defaming critics is classic "crisis management strategy" endorsed by the ALA because it allows a library to escape dealing with its problems and instead focus on "killing the messenger." Look for this strategy wherever anyone reports sexual activity in a public library…it's very similar to how for many years rape victims were called "sluts" on the witness stand to discredit them so that rapists could go free. Now, the ALA encourages library management to use this tactic on mothers who complain about dangers to children in public libraries. Kill the messenger. Destroy the witness. Frighten anyone else from ever coming forward so that libraries never have to deal with the sexual behavior of patrons who have been arousing themselves to sexual content on public computers all day.

* Bittman lying on the TV and the radio, claiming that nothing bad had ever happened in the OPPL; here, Bittman strategically counted on the reporters she spoke with not discussing any of the OPPL's internal incident reports that clearly showed that child pornography was accessed and that sexual and other illegal activity had been occurring at the OPPL. The ALA endorses lying to the media and telling reporters that nothing bad happened because it's likely that reporters will just take the library's word on that and not bother to FOIA the incident reports themselves. Reporters are lazy, but they also don't want to dig too deep and find something damaging to a library. When they do get the reports and see what's been happening, most reporters seem reluctant to write a negative story about a library. It appears they feel bad doing it (as if they were tasked with writing a negative story about a favorite teacher or friend from childhood), so they will bend over backwards to avoid talking about child porn being accessed in a place like the OPPL. One reporter candidly admitted that he "didn't want to be the guy who brought down such a nice library by writing about the child porn there." That same reporter said that if he did write about the child porn in the OPPL and the other sex crimes that happened there that his peers at the Chicago Tribune would never let him hear the end of it, because he'd be "the ass***e that went after the library." The ALA counts on this.

* Bittman lying to local media about the many instances of lawbreaking by the OPPL board and management; here, Bittman repeatedly lied throughout 2014 about the various times that the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act were violated by the OPPL. Again, the media just printed Bittman's talking points without fact-checking her. This is another thing the ALA counts on, that reporters will assume the library is telling the truth and not perform any due-diligence to check basic facts. The OPPL would break the law, but Bittman would tell the media it was allowed to do whatever it did. A month later, the Attorney General's office would issue a determination that the OPPL had indeed violated the law (just as critics pointed out); Bittman would then tell reporters that this determination was "nonbinding" and essentially didn't matter. When the OPPL was sued in circuit court to compel compliance with the law, Bittman lied again to media, claiming that library management essentially just woke up one day and decided to start following the law (but it had nothing at all to do with being sued). Yah, right. But, again…reporters refused to call Bittman out on this or point out that Bittman's story kept changing over time. This woman is as credible and believable as "Baghdad Bob", Saddam Hussein's old Minister of Propaganda, who famously said on live TV that "no American troops are in Baghdad" during the US invasion of Iraq…just as a convoy of American army vehicles rumbled along a street behind him in clear camera view.

This shameless and amateur lying would be funny if the problems at the OPPL weren't so serious.

Bridget Bittman is a laughable and childish individual who makes faces during board meetings and lashes out foolishly at her critics…but what she's doing as the OPPL's spokesman is truly damaging to the community (and to the library itself). It is simultaneously sad and hilarious that she's dispatched by a public body to represent them as their spokesman. It's more than a little horrifying that Bittman costs taxpayers over $80,000/year in compensation and benefits.

Every time she lies to the media, she's undermining the public's trust a little more. The ALA believes that public libraries have an unlimited reservoir of such trust, but I don't buy that. Bittman, like other "crisis managers" out there, seems to think that the public has a short memory and won't remember month to month what she's said…or what lies she's told. But, I don't buy that either.

Flipping through old newspapers, it's easy to see her "crisis management strategy" for the OPPL is a pattern of obvious lies. When she's burned on one, she shifts to something else…and counts on the reporter she's dealing with that day to spin the story to the best advantage of the OPPL. This is like taking the cards she's dealt and adding a new layer to a house of cards that keeps getting higher and higher with each new level of lies told. I think the ALA tells her that she can go as high as the Sears Tower with all this…but the OPPL's "crisis management strategy" has ratcheted the stakes up again and again in such a way that we've crossed a point of no return where not even the media is going to be able to save these people.

The community in Orland Park wants a leadership change in this library. When that happens, it's likely that the position of highly-paid spokesman and "crisis manager" is going to be reevaluated…right after the new leadership finally addresses the dangers to children in this library and ensures that child porn is never again accessed in the OPPL and that men no longer use this building as a masturbation lounge or a place to stalk women and children sexually.

The ALA's "crisis management strategies" are all based on the assumption that if a public library attacks its critics and uses the media to spread lies that eventually its critics will get tired and walk away. These are the tactics of Saul Alinsky, based on his Rules for Radicals. Attacking critics and alienating them from allies by discrediting them or otherwise assailing them is classic Alinsky. It works in 95% of cases, because the people who are most likely to complain about bad things happening in libraries are working parents who care about their children…and they wither and cringe when attacked by a "crisis manager" like Bittman.

The Orland Park Public Library child pornography scandal is a case study in not only how foolish "crisis management strategy" is in general, but what happens when the advice given by the ALA comes up against a community and critics that are not scared away by these Alinsky tactics. The OPPL is a public library that allowed child porn to be accessed without consequence and has allowed sexual and other illegal activity to occur there…and then believed it could continue business as usual by dispatching Bridget Bittman to tell lies to the media and malign the library's critics.

Something like $300,000 in legal bills and a string of defeats before the Attorney General's office and a judge in Cook County circuit court later, the OPPL is a cautionary tale for what happens to a public library when it ignores the wants and needs of its community and listens to the ALA instead.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Man Banned for Sexual Harassment Sues Library and Loses

Moore v. Birmingham Pub. Library

United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division
April 9, 2013, Decided; April 9, 2013, Filed
Civil Action Number 2:12-cv-2517-AKK


Counsel:  Leroy Junior Moore, Plaintiff, Pro se, Birmingham, AL.

For Birmingham Public Library, Defendant: Frederic L Fullerton, II, CITY OF BIRMINGHAM, Legal Department, Birmingham, AL; Nicole E King, CITY OF BIRMINGHAM LAW DEPT., Birmingham, AL.


Opinion by: ABDUL K. KALLON


Leroy Junior Moore filed this action pro se against the Birmingham Library ("the Library") alleging what the court construes as a violation of his freedom of speech and due process rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. … Basically, Mr. Moore contends that the Library expelled him from its premises without just cause and/or because it concluded falsely that Mr. Moore distributed religious materials to its employees and patrons. … The Library has moved for summary judgment contending that it expelled Mr. Moore because Mr. Moore purportedly engaged in disruptive behavior, in part, by sexually harassing its employees. … Mr. Moore also subsequently filed a cross motion for summary judgment, …, albeit 22 days after the court's deadline, see doc. 37, contending that the Library had no legitimate basis to ban him from its premises. Both motions are fully briefed, …, and, after carefully reviewing the contentions in this case, unfortunately for Mr. Moore, he has presented no evidence to support his claims. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS the Library's motion, DENIES Mr. Moore's motion, and DISMISSES Mr. Moore's lawsuit.



Mr. Moore regularly patronized the Birmingham Library's main branch located at 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, Alabama. … On or about May 2, 2011, a Library employee, Jiemin Fan, filed a harassment complaint against Mr. Moore alleging that, over the prior six months or more, Mr. Moore had regularly passed her notes expressing his interest in knowing her personally and asking her out on a date. … Fan also stated that Mr. Moore called the Library on several occasions asking to speak to her and that he engaged her in inappropriate conversations. … Fan told Mr. Moore she was flattered but that she was not interested and that he needed to stop. … According to Fan, Mr. Moore interfered with her ability to work, and that of her coworkers. … Mr. Moore denies engaging in this alleged conduct. …

Another Library employee, Mary Branch, also filed a harassment complaint against Mr. Moore on May 3, 2011. … Branch stated that Mr. Moore continuously asked her to deliver notes to Fan, that she read one note which asked Fan to go out for coffee, and that Mr. Moore called the Library impersonating a woman and asking to speak to Fan. … Branch stated that Mr. Moore's behavior "has become annoying to everyone who works in [the] ALS [Department]." … Moreover, Branch added that Mr. Moore told another Library employee that he was "on the offender's list and that his missing teeth were knocked out in a fight with a woman." … Finally, Branch stated that Mr. Moore's "behavior has made us uncomfortable." … Mr. Moore also denies engaging in this alleged conduct. …

After Library Chief Security Officer Mike Lee investigated Fan's and Branch's complaints, Lee informed Mr. Moore that the Library would ban Mr. Moore from its premises if Mr. Moore continued to disturb the Library's employees and patrons. … Mr. Moore apparently did not heed the warning because Fan filed another complaint against him on June 24, 2011 when Mr. Moore came to the Library seeking to talk to Fan and allegedly solicited another Library patron to talk to Fan. … Fan stated that "[i]t is obvious that Moore has problems. Security needs to be alerted of Moore/his issues, and take necessary steps to handle the matter." … After investigating Fan's complaint, on June 28, 2011, the Chief of Security banned Mr. Moore from the Library for six months for violating the City's sexual harassment policy by harassing employees and for disrupting the employees and patrons use and enjoyment of the library. … Thereafter, on September 21, 2011, the Chief of Security recommended that the Library's Director, Renee Blalock, extend the expulsion to a full year due to an increasing number of "disturbing" phone calls Mr. Moore had allegedly made to the Library staff. … Consequently, on November 8, 2011, the Library extended Mr. Moore's expulsion an additional three months. … Blalock attempted unsuccessfully to contact Mr. Moore on November 28, 2011 to inform him that he could return to the Library no earlier than March 27, 2012. …

On February 24, 2012, Mr. Moore entered the Library and allegedly began cursing and talking loudly. … The Chief of Security called the police and subsequently had Mr. Moore arrested for trespass and disruptive behavior. … The arrest report states that Mr. Moore "was trespassed from the Birmingham City Library after being accused of making improper advances to employees in the Youth Department. Today [Mr. Moore] returned to the Library[;] after being told to leave he refused, at that point he was arrested and transported to the City Jail without incident. The advances were sexual in nature and [Mr. Moore] also wrote letters to the employees even after he was [banned] from the Library." … The Library contends that Mr. Moore violated its policy prohibiting disruptive behavior towards the Library's patrons and employees. … Mr. Moore denies violating the Library's policies and maintains that he never engaged in the alleged conduct.


A. First Amendment Claim

B. Due Process - Fourteenth Amendment Claim

Mr. Moore has presented no evidence that the Library's policies prohibiting sexual harassment or disruptive behavior inflicted unreasonable discriminatory injury upon him. Rather, the evidence presented shows that the Library acted justifiably in enforcing its policies against Mr. Moore. Indeed, as the Library pointed out, the Supreme Court found that "[a] State or its instrumentality may, of course, regulate the use of its libraries or other public facilities. But it must do so in a reasonable and nondiscriminatory manner, equally applicable to all and administered with equality to all. It may not do so as to some and not as to all." Brown v. State of La., 383 U.S. 131… (1966). Based on the evidence before this court, the Library acted reasonably and in a non-discriminatory manner. Accordingly, in light of Mr. Moore's failure to support his claims, the Library's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.


Based on the foregoing reasons, Mr. Moore failed to establish a claim under the First or Fourteenth Amendments. Therefore, the Birmingham Library's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED, and Mr. Moore's motion is DENIED. This case is DISMISSED with prejudice.

DONE the 9th day of April, 2013.

/s/ Abdul Kallon



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