The state of California has paid more than $25 million to settle sexual harassment cases over the last three fiscal years. [Sacramento Bee]
Over the three-year period, California settled 92 sexual harassment claims involving 24 agencies and 10 campuses within both the UC and CSU systems. The two university systems insurance plans covered their payouts of nearly $3.9 million. That left California taxpayers on the hook for $21.3 million of the $25 million.
Out of the 92 settlements, 36 exceeded $100,000, while seven exceeded $500,000. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was the agency responsible for the highest total payouts — more than $15 million. The UC system trailed with a total cost of $3.4 million.
The largest single settlement — $10 million — went to four young men who were locked in a youth correctional facility in Southern California. They alleged that a male staff counselor coerced them into sex acts in exchange for contraband and special treatment.
Tyann Sorrell, a former executive assistant at UC Berkeley School of Law, received the highest settlement that went to an individual — $1.7 million. Last March, Sorrell settled her sexual harassment claim against the former law school dean, Sujit Choudhry.
Other cases included a female correctional officer at Corcoran Prison receiving $750,000. She alleged a fellow guard repeatedly made explicit sexual comments, stared at her breasts and crotch, touched her with his hands and pelvis and called her at home.
The CSU system paid $92,000 to settle case of a female Cal State Fullerton student in her 20s who reported that her professor encouraged her to drink whiskey with him in his office and advised her to masturbate during the week to relax and then report back to him on her progress.
When examining all 92 settlements, a wide variety of cases and storylines appear, including male and female transgender employees alleging sexual harassment, as well as workers suing bosses; bosses suing employees; and workers suing co-workers. Low-level and high-paid employees have leveled sexual harassment charges, as have students and teachers.
By comparison, the state of Florida, with a workforce less than half the size of California’s, paid about $11 million over a 30-year period to settle its sexual harassment cases, the Associated Press reported in November. Sexual harassment cases cost the state of New York at least $5 million between 2008 and 2010, according to the New York Times.
Carolyn Pfanner, a Davis rancher and board member for the Yolo County Taxpayers Association said the state has paid an outrageous amount to settle sexual harassment cases.
“Twenty-five million is a heck of a lot of money,” Pfanner said. “It just shows a complete disdain for taxpayers, who have to work hard to provide that money.”
Pfanner said she has complained to the governor’s office about the lack of public accountability for sexual harassment claims and payouts.
“We need to know who these perpetrators are,” Pfanner said. “We want transparency.”