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Posted On: February 16, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

The Cost To Defend a Sexual Harassment Claim

Once a sexual harassment complaint is filed, the employer is required to investigate the complaint and file a response--then defend itself or settle. Here is an example of how expensive that process can be for an employer. In Knox County taxpayers have paid out $464,953 to attorneys, insurers, accountants and investigators in the battle over claims and counterclaims based on a sexual harassment complaint filed against State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer.

In this case, three women working under Pepmeyer filed a sexual harassment complaint, Pepmeyer then claimed the former State's attorney Paul Mangieri and former Sheriff Thompson were running sloppy departments and wasting taxpayer monies. Those claims were never substantiated despite the accounting firm of Carpentier, Mitchell & Goddard, being paid $62,000 to conduct audits of Mangieri’s, Thompson’s offices and private investigators William and Robert Albracht being paid $28,000 to investigate Mangieri’s, Thompson’s offices. A prevailing theory is that Pepmeyer is making the claims to divert attention from his sexual harassment case.

What this case really shows is how much money a sexual harassment case can cost. Once a claim is made there may be other claims and counter-claims made and the costs just keep going up. This case isn't even scheduled for trial anytime soon and almost half a million dollars has been spent. According to Galesburg.com, county treasurer Robin Davis said

"None of us are happy with the amount of money being spent but we have an obligation to defend any allegations made against county officials,”

Sometimes settling a sexual harassment claim quickly makes the most sense for all parties.

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