Unfortunately it is, and there is little that can be done by taxpayers in California and other states of our country to prevent state agencies and public universities from spending millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment claims… every year.
A recent bombshell article by The Sacramento Bee detailed outrageous data showing that California state agencies and public universities are spending enormous amounts of money to settle sexual misconduct claims against their workers, all funded by… You guessed it: Californian taxpayers.
Not to mention that the public is being kept in the dark about the overall cost of sexual harassment cases in state agencies and public universities.
What California taxpayers’ money is being used for
The article details the case of a former California Highway Patrol data processing manager, Leonard Johnson III, who sexually harassed an office worker, and the state ended up paying out over $600,000 to settle the woman’s lawsuit, plus $115,000 in worker’s compensation.
The case dates back to December 2011, when Johnson was hired by the CHP after passing his sexual harassment prevention training with a stellar 95% score.
But it seems that Johnson forgot all the things he learned during the training, as within three months after his hiring, he sexually assaulted a female office assistant, Carmyn Fields.
According to the lawsuit filed by Fields in early 2012, Johnson sat in her lap, repeatedly touched her hair and told her she could be his “work-wife.” He also allegedly kept wiggling and “grinding” on Fields’ lap.
In a separate alleged incident, Johnson assaulted Fields by pulling her out of her chair when they were alone in the office, holding her wrist and pressing the woman against a wall. The former CHP manager also attempted to forcefully kiss Fields.
During internal investigation, Johnson downplayed the accusations and said he was just “joking around.” As a result of the lawsuit, California state had to pay out $600,000 to settle Fields’ lawsuit, plus $115,000 in worker’s compensation. Johnson still works for the state.
How common are sexual harassment settlements funded by taxpayers?
Cases like this – when taxpayers’ money is being used to settle sexual harassment claims against employees at law enforcement agencies, state agencies and public universities – are quite common.
Interestingly, the fact that taxpayers in Riverside and the rest of California are paying to settle sexual misconduct claims filed against state workers would have been kept under wraps if it wasn’t for the ongoing string of sex scandals gripping Hollywood.
The Bee reported that in the last nine months in 2017, the University of California had to spend more than $2.7 million to settle two claims – sexual assault and sexual harassment – against faculty members at UC Santa Cruz and the UC Berkeley School of Law.
Our Riverside sexual harassment attorneys here at JML Law explain why Californian residents have found out about this only now. The secrecy and lack of transparency in how taxpayer’s money is being spent are caused by bureaucracy and complex regulations at California’s state departments.
Each department at state agencies and public universities is responsible for its own budgeting and the legal resolutions, which is why the media and the public have little to no access to the list of sexual harassment settlements involving state workers.
Under state laws in California, state agencies are allowed to hire legal representatives from outside law firms, which adds a yet another lawyer of secrecy on sexual harassment settlements at state agencies.
What to do if you were sexually harassed by a state employee?
Here at JML Law, our Riverside sexual harassment lawyers have represented both state employers and private sector workers in cases involving inappropriate behavior in the workplace, sexual abuse, harassment, assault and other misconduct.
We offer superb legal representation and respect your right to confidentiality if you have been sexually harassed or abused by a state worker employed at Riverside or California’s law enforcement agencies, state agencies and public universities.
Consult our attorneys to find out your legal options today by calling JML Law offices at 818-610-8800 today or send an email for a free case evaluation.