State settles $11M in sexual harassment claims over three decades
A view of the Capitol from Apalachee Parkway Wednesday morning, Oct. 11, 2017 in Tallahassee, Fla. (Photo by Phil Sears)

Florida Legislature

While the state Capitol in recent weeks has been beset by sex scandals, records show that the state has a 30-year history of settling sexual harassment claims, costing taxpayers more than $11 million.

The state has agreed to resolve more than 300 claims with an overwhelming proportion taking place in the Department of Corrections, followed by the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Transportation, according to records released by the administration of Chief Finance Officer Jimmy Patronis first requested by The Associated Press.

The largest amount the state settled for was $1.3 million tied to a class-action lawsuit filed by nurses who worked at a state prison. The smallest amount was $500 and went to pay a sexual harassment claim at a state prison as well.

The documents show there was one legislative employee in the ‘90s accused of sexual harassment. That case was settled for $165,000.

The details come at a contentious time at the state Legislature, where two senators, ousted Democrat Jeff Clemens and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala, have been accused of sexually harassing women in the legislative process.

Stephen Bittel, the former Florida Democratic Party chair, also stepped down from his post after women accused him of creating a hostile environment for women in the workplace which included him systematically asking some women about their sex lives.

Sally Boynton Brown, who resigned as the president of the state’s Democratic Party after Bittel, was also accused by two former staffers of “enabling” his sexually inappropriate comments.

Ana Ceballos

Ana covers politics and policy Before joining the News Service of Florida she wrote for the Naples Daily News and was the legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press and covered policy issues impacting immigration, the environment, criminal justice and social welfare in Florida. She holds a B.A. in journalism from San Diego State University. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Monterey Herald and the Monterey County Weekly. She has also freelanced for The Washington Post at the U.S.-Mexico border covering crime in the border city of Tijuana, where she grew up. Ana is fluent in Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.

One comment

  • Christopher M. Kennard

    November 27, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Hopefully, this represents a real change in all work sites and environments as well as throughout our social culture and scene, so sexual harassment becomes an anomaly and good men no longer have to feel so ashamed of so many of our elders and/or peers for the nature of the damage they have done.

    The reverberating repercussions and ripple effects resulting from such transgressions impact not only our mothers, our sisters, our wives, our daughters and women across the board, but changes how women look at men in general, and now have begun to ask why the rest of us have never stepped in to stop this deformed use of power to cause personal debasement and harm to women or anyone being sexually assaulted, coerced, demeaned, harassed, raped, etc.

    The only valid response must be that we see, hear, understand and will stand by no longer as people all around us are being so abused. Time for a change. We must make the change, for the direct benefit of us all.

Comments are closed.


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