APNewsbreak: Florida Paid Millions Settling Harassment Cases

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida taxpayers have paid more than $11 million in the past 30 years to settle more than 300 cases that alleged that state workers were sexually harassed, or forced to work in a hostile work environment.

The Associated Press requested the information from the state agency that tracks payments made to settle lawsuits filed against state agencies and state universities.

The administration of Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis released a report that detailed payments made as far back as 1987.

Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, a Florida State graduate, does “The Chop” after Gov. Rick Scott mentions the school’s football national championship during his State of the State speech Tuesday, March 4, 2014, on the floor of the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Photo: AP Photo/Phil Sears.

Amounts ranged in size 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.

The report detailed only one payment made to settle an allegation made by a legislative employee, back in the ’90s. But the report does not include a $47,000 secret payment made to a legislative analyst in 1988 to keep her from filing a lawsuit against a powerful state legislator. That case never went to court, but became public after a grand jury released details, which ultimately resulted in a reprimand against the legislator.

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.