Sex appears to be a big business when it comes to state agencies and former state workers. According to a Associated Press story, over $11 million in payouts have been made in the past 30 years to settle sexual harassment lawsuits filed by former state employees.
The AP obtained recently released information that outlines settled lawsuits levied against state universities like Florida State University, and other state agencies.
The information released Monday showed that more than 300 cases have resulted in payments since 1987. Amounts ranged from a $5,500 payment to a Florida State University student who alleged harassment from a supervisor to a $1.3 million payment to settle a class action lawsuit filed by nurses who worked at state prisons. Nearly 60 percent of the cases involved employees who worked in the Department of Corrections.
One woman received a nearly $129,000 payment just last year to settle a two-year-old lawsuit that alleged her supervisor at the Florida Department of Health had discussed sexual activities he had witnessed. He also would comment about women’s breasts and buttocks, according to the lawsuit.
Marie Mattox, the attorney who represented the woman, said she doesn’t think that sexual harassment is “more pervasive” in state government. But she contended it’s tolerated more in select agencies and that it takes longer to resolve lawsuits than those filed against private employers.
Rick Johnson, a Tallahassee attorney who handles discrimination cases, said he’s “disappointed” there are so many cases, but said the state winds up paying more to settle the cases because of “how stridently ” it contests the allegations.
“The state is going to side against the victim, against the women,” Johnson said.
Florida routinely pays out millions each year to settle numerous lawsuits involving everything from claims from injured workers to residents whose cars or property are damaged by state workers. Since 1987 the state has paid more than $74 million to settle nearly 2,100 employment related claims including the more than 300 sexual harassment claims.
Will the state of Florida eventually have to fork out some more taxpayer dollars to settle those alleged sexual harassment claims made against state Senator Jack Latvala (R)?
It’s important to understand that the overwhelming majority of these cases were settled prior to Gov. Rick Scott taking office.