Trib editorial: Blameless Pa. taxpayers should pay no more sexual-harassment settlements
If Harrisburg’s “#MeToo” moment has a silver lining for taxpayers, it’s the light newly shed on what settling state employees’ sexual-harassment complaints and lawsuits have cost them. And now that such reprehensible behavior and its regrettable financial consequences are coming into focus, Pennsylvania taxpayers must not be victimized further.
The Associated Press reports that over the last eight years, the state paid $1.5 million-plus in such settlements that “have become public in recent weeks,” including $250,000 awarded in December by a jury in a state trooper’s lawsuit and $900,000 paid in 2016 to settle a Department of Revenue case. The AP says Gov. Tom Wolf’s office “is expected to disclose additional settlements discovered in an ongoing review of cases” involving the executive branch.
With all three state-government branches settling such cases in recent years, taxpayers don’t yet know how much sexual harassers have cost them in total. But they have every right to ask why they, not the harassers, footed these settlement bills — and every right to demand that from now on, the harassers, not them, will pay up.
It’s appalling that taxpayers might never have known about Pennsylvania’s already-paid settlements had America’s larger “#MeToo” moment not occurred. And it’s appalling that blameless Pennsylvanians’ tax dollars were tapped for those settlements. What’s done is done. But now, it’s time for the state to stop paying settlements that sexual harassers, not taxpayers, should pay.