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Sterling Employment Law

Detroit school district pays $650K to settle sexual harassment claim

The Detroit Public Schools District recently reached a settlement with a former superintendent who claimed that the district's then-board president inappropriately touched himself as the two of them met to discuss the superintendent's employment contract.

To settle the sexual harassment claim, the school district will pay the woman $650,000 and she will, in turn, drop her suits against the district and against the former board president.

The school district issued a statement pointing out that the settlement is not an admission of liability, but rather a "compromise of a disputed claim."

The board president allegedly fondled himself for about 20 minutes while he was meeting with the former superintendent. In a letter to other board members, the former president admitted to "inappropriate conduct with a professional," but did not name the former superintendent specifically. He is now on a two-year probation period after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of misconduct in office. Since he agreed to plead guilty to that offense, a misdemeanor charge of obscene conduct was dropped.

Further details about the incident that prompted the former superintendent's lawsuit are not likely to be disclosed, since all parties had to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Obviously, not all cases of sexual harassment are this blatant, but they do not need to be. If something at work ever strikes you as inappropriately sexual and makes you uncomfortable, you may want to speak about it with a lawyer. No one should have to feel sexually threatened when they are at work.

Source: The Detroit News, "Detroit Public Schools to pay $650K to ex-superintendent in fondling case," Jennifer Chambers, Oct. 13, 2011

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