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Settlement Amount

I've sued the county due to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. The lawsuit was filed in federal court by my ex-attorney. I am now without counsel and the county has scheduled a settlement conference this week. I have been harassed for a little over two years now. I had an intimate relationship with a colleague for a little over a year. When I ended the relationship, he took it poorly and treated me like dirt for a year.

He subsequently applied for the management position and was promoted to become my immediate manager, despite the director knowing of our previous history. The moment he was promoted he started in on retaliatory behaviour that continues to this day.

The county is stipulating that should we come to an agreement as far as the monetary settlement, that I have to resign from my current position and never work for the county again.

I am 50 years old with no formal education. We all know how this economy is. I've looked for a job for the last two years and there is nothing out there in my pay scale and I can't afford to take a pay cut.

Since I have to "resign", I will not be entitled to unemployment benefits. I will obviously lose out on my retirement as well. I will have to come out of pocket for medical insurance, etc. As a single mother with a mortgage payment, kids in college etc, I can't afford that without a reasonable settlement. Would asking 1.5 million be out of question? Will they laugh at that? I know they will counteroffer and that is why my starting point would be so high to allow for that.

What do you think? What is a reasonable number considering all those factors? Could I propose they fire my manager and keep me employed for at least 10 years? I am the most senior employee in the unit, I've trained all my colleagues as well as my manager. I've been with the county for ten years and he has only been with the county about four and a half years.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

4 answers  |  asked Feb 9, 2010 1:48 PM [EST] in Harassment  |  applies to California

Answers (4)

Elisa Ungerman
I am finding that such clauses in a settlement are to avoid potential retaliation claim in light of federal case law that allows retaliation claims for employees after the filing of discrimination/harassment law suits. So that's what the ER is trying to avoid. However, this thinking is misplaced, and misinterprets the case law. You need to get an atty to represent you at the settlement conference - even if you have to pay. It should be worth the investment and the County will take you more seriously.

posted by Elisa Ungerman  |  Feb 9, 2010 5:13 PM [EST]
Aryeh Leichter
I agree with Ms. Koehn. You have to continue the settlement conference and get yourself an attorney. I would suggest you go to CELA.Org (California Employment Lawyers Association) and contact lawyers in your area. You would be doing yourself a great disservice by going about settlement alone. I wish you the best of luck.

posted by Aryeh Leichter  |  Feb 9, 2010 3:06 PM [EST]
Janet M. Koehn
GET A LAWYER!
request a continuance of the settlement conference to obtain counsel. you don't have to agree to anything you don't feel comfortable with. i agree with george.

posted by Janet M. Koehn  |  Feb 9, 2010 2:02 PM [EST]
George Allen
If there are no substantial issues regarding your work performance, then it is outrageous for a government employer to demand that you resign as part of a settlement agreement for a harassment lawsuit.

Coming up with a settlement number is much more art than science. The elements to consider are the strength of the case; the damages you have incurred, both economic and emotional/psychological; and the consequences of not settling. No attorney will be able to give you a decent evaluation of your case without spending a good deal of time with you.

Good luck.

posted by George Allen  |  Feb 9, 2010 2:00 PM [EST]