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Judge says UNC failed to protect housekeeper

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

An attorney is praising an administrative judge's ruling that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill failed to protect a housekeeper from sexual harassment.

Al McSurely said Monday that last week's ruling is one of the strongest to come out of the state Office of Administrative hearings. The State Personnel Commission must sign off on the ruling.

McSurely plans to seek $160,000 in damages.

The case involves Maria Isabel Prudencio-Arias, who sued under the state's whistleblower act. She says she was retaliated against for filing a sexual harassment claim against a former housing director.

Judge Melissa Lassiter said Prudencio-Arias established only part of her whistleblower claim. She also said the university failed to protect Prudencio-Aria from sexual harassment and retaliation.

A UNC spokeswoman wasn't immediately available for comment.

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