Saturday, October 13, 2007

More investigation needed on sexual harassment settlement

The news spread across the media Friday that the Missouri Department of Agriculture had reached an agreement with a former employee that paid her $70,000 and her lawyers $12,500 to settle her sexual harassment claim against former director Fred Ferrell.

After checking the Kansas City Star, Associated Press and Missourinet account of the settlement, I can't find any mention of what appears to be the most important part of the settlement...if the Missouri Department of Agriculture is paying this money, that means the money is not coming from Ferrell, it is coming from you and me. Only one Missouri taxpayer, Fred Ferrell, sexually harassed former employee Heather Elder. The rest of us had nothing to do with it. We hear all of the time how public officials cannot be sued due to sovereign immunity, why did that not apply to this case?

Though the Star did not address that issue, it did provide a possible explanation for the decision by the Blunt administration to stick us with the bill:

The settlement means the lawsuit will not go to trial, which could have required depositions of Gov. Matt Blunt and other officials involved in the case.


Anonymous said...

Randy has it wrong again. It has never been established the Farrell harassed anyone. I happen to believe he did, but it has not been established. This settlement is just that, an agreement that no suit will go forward. "Sovereign immunity" does not apply to sexual harassment. The thinking here is obvious the settlement is less costly than the case, win or lose. While we may both choose to believe that Ferrell committed harassment, it has never been established and so your declaration of Ferrell's guilt is unprofessional and unjustified. Randy, did you ever think about taking a journalism course just for kicks.

Randy said...

I do not have it wrong. Just because it was not established in a court of law does not mean it has not been established. A Highway Patrol report showed it happened, Matt Blunt finally fired him because of it, and we are still getting stuck with a bill that, by all rights, should either be paid personally by Ferrell or by the governor. If you had been paying attention you would have noticed that this a site for news and commentary. Apparently you are the one who needs to take a course so you can understand the difference. That post was clearly commentary. If you choose to disagree, fine, that is your right. It is also your tax money that you seem to like tossing around in such a cavalier fashion.

Anonymous said...

Is this the Heather Elder that grew up in Carthage?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:13, that's low. Harassment is a touchy subject for some, and so: shame on you for using names.