James Flower asks April Van Dyke

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Your lawsuit

Hi- I understand you sued your last employer, a public defender’s office in another county, for sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment (correct me if I’m wrong). What happened please, and what’s the status of the case?

— James Flower


April Van Dyke


Good Moring James.  Thanks for this question. 

During my tenure at the San Joaquin County Public Defender’s Office from 2015 to 2019, I encountered instances of inappropriate behavior and harassment, targeting not only my own sexual orientation but also that of a transgender client. Colleagues made foul and lewd comments about my sexuality and intentionally misgendered and mocked our transgender client, it was a textbook hostile work environment.

I’m not the sort of person to let that sort of thing stand, so I promptly reported these incidents to both my supervisor and Human Resources. Unfortunately, this decision resulted in a distressing period of professional retaliation, targeted isolation, and threats of violence. Before long, I left to preserve my mental health and filed a suit against San Joaquin County. The lawsuit is still being resolved.

Reflecting on these experiences, I am steadfast in my belief that standing up for what is right, moral, and just is a principle worth upholding. My dedication to justice and empathy for others has only deepened over time,  and I’m stronger for having stood up for myself and my client. It is my sincere hope that by addressing these issues wherever we find them, we can build a community where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, irrespective of their identity.

I’m privileged to have been in a position to leave that situation and recover. I feel for those who can’t take that step. Despite the challenges, the silver lining of this experience was finding solace in my new home, Humboldt County, where I was embraced by a warm community and found safety to heal among the redwoods and rivers.