JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The state of Missouri has paid out nearly $600,000 to a female corrections officer to settle another sexual harassment lawsuit.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday cited a report issued by the Missouri attorney general’s office showing that Michelle Findley received a check for $294,500 in February, and her attorney was paid $291,443.
Findley’s 2016 lawsuit accused male co-workers of using sexually derogatory terms toward her and showing photos of a penis.
After filing suit, she was stabbed by a person in a mask in the parking lot of the Kansas City facility where she worked. She suffered back, legs, face and forearms. She later transferred to another prison.
Lawsuits against the state cost at least $23 million last year. Sixteen of the 45 biggest payouts related to employment discrimination, and six of those involved Missouri Department of Corrections workers. Over the past five years, settlements and court decisions have cost Missouri taxpayers more than $52 million.
The Department of Corrections oversees inmates in 21 prisons. It has been under scrutiny for low pay and harsh working conditions. Director Anne Precythe has replaced more than three-quarters of senior level managers and wardens since she was brought in by Gov. Eric Greitens after he took office in 2017.
Employees of other state departments also have won large awards.
Gracia Backer won a $2 million settlement in 2016 after being fired from the Missouri Department of Labor in 2013. She had complained that former director Larry Rebman created a hostile work environment.
Terrie Fuchs was awarded $1.7 million in 2015 in a suit alleging she was mistreated by supervisors in the Missouri Department of Revenue because she had cerebral palsy.
Patricia Daniels, a former teacher at a state youth services school in Kansas City, was awarded $4.6 million in a racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit. Her case is being appealed.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com