SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — You’ve seen the allegations of sexual harassment at the state legislature, but what you may not know is the price you’re paying for it.
A new report shows California taxpayers are shelling out millions to settle sexual harassment claims against lawmakers.
“He was attempting to put his clothes on with his pants unzipped and exposed himself to me,” said former Legislative Director Nancy Kathleen Finnigan.
She’s talking about Former Assemblyman Steve Fox, whom she’s accused of sexual harassment and retaliation.
“Thirty days after I filed my complaint. I lost my job,” she said.
And four years after suing the California Assemblyman and the Assembly, the state settled. Finnigan walked away with $100,000.
“Which basically paid for my legal fees,” she said.
Fees paid for by Californian taxpayers.
According to a recent report, taxpayers shelled out two million dollars over the past 25 years, to settle sexual harassment claims.
“People who are harmed, they probably deserve the payout, but why should the taxpayers be on the hook?, said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento).
McCarty is preparing legislation that would require lawmakers to foot the bill for their misconduct.
“We should seek to reimburse the monies from wrongdoers to the taxpayer general fund,” he said.
Employment attorney Mary Alice Coleman says forcing a lawmaker to pay out a settlement could come at a cost to the victim.
“There is a risk that the legislator could say they don’t have money—they don’t have a political fund, they don’t have whatever—and never be held to pay out the settlement,” said Coleman.
Nancy Finnigan is one of her clients. Finnigan says her career at the Capitol is over. Now she wants something else: lasting change.
“I’d like a code of conduct to be discussed. They should have to sign that code of conduct before they’re elected,” she said.