In past weeks, the prevalence of sexual harassment claims in the halls of Colorado's institutions for higher learning and state government have been brought into the spotlight. Not only have the scandals resulted in increased scrutiny and potential repercussions for the individuals and institutions involved, but they have also cost Colorado taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and are poised to put an even bigger hit on the state's coffers.
For example, the sexual harassment claims against several Colorado lawmakers have reportedly cost the state's taxpayers $275,000 in the form of attorneys' fees, investigations, sexual harassment training and reducing the incidence of such harassment. Because some of the expenditures are recurring, the price tag will continue to grow. Moreover, the state could take a bigger hit should it be required to pay out claims related to any of the allegations.
At the same time, a judge has ruled against a summary judgment motion filed by Colorado State University in a sexual harassment-related retaliation claim brought by a former assistant professor against CSU. Once again, because CSU is a state school, taxpayer dollars are potentially at risk for alleged harassing behavior and measures allegedly taken by administrators to silence the victim. The judge's ruling in the case means that it can proceed to trial unless it is settled beforehand.
Sexual harassment can be expensive for businesses and organizations. However, these economic lessons help to teach organizations to take allegations seriously. Anyone who has been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace should seek the advice of an experienced employment attorney.