A parole officer recently had her lawsuit dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge. While that sounds initially like bad news, the reason for the dismissal is also reason for her to celebrate: she settled her claims against the Department of Corrections for $1.1 million.
The story the Michigan woman tells reminds us of the stories of sexual harassment and retaliation many employees of Wisconsin’s own prison system have had to endure.
The Michigan woman said her had to suffer repeated sexual harassment by a male colleague. He would kiss her on the top of the head and rub her shoulders, she said in court documents. He also sent her a text message that contained a photo of his genitals.
The defendant said he sent the photo by mistake and asked the woman not to look at it. He denied her other allegations. It should be noted that he had been previously disciplined for exposing himself to other female employees.
Her employment law attorney said, “the settlement speaks for itself.” Indeed. When the state writes a former employee a check for more than $1 million, it speaks volumes – even if the terms of the settlement allow the defendants to not acknowledge any wrongdoing. “I’ve never had a case where the Michigan Department of Corrections voluntarily agreed to pay this much to right wrongs,” the lawyer added.
A spokesperson for the Corrections Department said the incidents in the case occurred before the current department director took office three years ago.
No matter how the defendants try to spin the settlement, the numbers speak for themselves. The settlement serves as an incentive for management to ensure that workplaces are safe and secure and that if future incidents are reported, they are dealt with seriously and fairly.