Filner signed off on the agreement, but won’t actually have to pay any of the settlement out of his own pocket. The settlement, which includes attorney’s fees and damages, will, instead, be completely paid for out of San Diego’s budget. Filner agreed to resign last August under the condition San Diego would pay those legal fees and any settlement amounts resulting from sexual harassment lawsuits.
In an announcement, city attorney Jan Goldsmith said, “Nothing will come out of his pocket.” He added, “This is a big step towards putting this behind our community,” he told reporters. “This is what’s called a clean settlement in that there are no hanging issues.”
Last summer, at least 20 women came forward, alleging Filner sexually harassed them. One of those women was Irene McCormack-Jackson, who claimed the randy mayor created a “hostile work environment” by trying to forcibly kiss her, asking her not to wear panties to work, and making numerous sexual advances towards her.
Shortly, after Filner took office in California’s second largest city in 2013, the complaints began to pile on, though most of the women refrained from filing sexual harassment suits. In City Hall, Filner was referred to as a “dirty old man,” and subjected many women to his inappropriate sexual advances in his office and at outside events.
In December, Filner pleaded guilty to one count of false imprisonment and one count of sexual battery which resulted in him being sentenced to three years’ probation and three months of house arrest.
San Diego admitted no liability in settling the suit, but it is unclear if Filner had to admit wrongdoing when signing off on the agreed settlement.
On Tuesday, McCormack Jackson and her attorney, Gloria Allred held a press conference to discuss the settlement.
During the press conference, Allred said her client’s suit should serve as a warning to politicians across the country that sexual harassment will not be tolerated and they must comply with the law and take steps to stop this in the workplace.
“There are many Irenes out there [nationally] and they won’t be silenced anymore,” Allred said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
McCormack-Jackson told reporters the suit was not about the money, but was meant to force Filner out of office because she believed he was unfit to be mayor. She thanked her friends and family who stood beside her and also gave kudos to former Councilwoman Donna Frye who, though once an ardent supporter of Filner, was the first woman to publically condemn Filner for being a habitual harasser.
As part of the agreement, McCormack-Jackson’s employment with the city will end on April 1st, and she had not decided what she will do after then.
The women Filner harassed tolerated the behavior because they believed he was too powerful, but as this settlement should serve as a reminder to men and women that they don’t have to tolerate a hostile work environment and can put an end to it with the help of a sexual harassment attorney.