By Susannah Price
BBC News, the UN
The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has dismissed a senior official who oversaw the supervision of elections in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Carina Perelli had been seen as a rising star at the UN
His spokesman said Carina Perelli, director of the UN election unit, had been given a letter sacking her.
The secretary general's move follows a report by an outside consulting firm which said sexual innuendo was part of the fabric of her department.
Ms Perelli is expected to appeal against the immediate dismissal.
Mr Annan's spokesman said Ms Perelli had been dismissed because of misconduct including sexual harassment of staff and abuse of authority.
Ms Perelli had been seen as a rising star in the UN and her elections department was widely praised by President George W Bush among others for organising elections in Afghanistan in Iraq.
However, complaints by staff led the UN to hire a Swiss consulting firm to investigate.
Its report, based on interviews with staff members, said employees were treated abusively and there was an atmosphere in which sexual innuendo and favouritism thrived.
The UN's human resources office then interviewed staff, and UN officials said it was their findings that led to the dismissal.
In August the UN formally accused Ms Perelli of harassing her staff but her response was delayed because of elections in Afghanistan and the referendum in Iraq.
The sacking comes at a difficult time for the UN.
The world body has been heavily criticised over mismanagement of its oil-for-food programme in Iraq, which has led to calls for more transparency and accountability.