Claim: The City of Milpitas has spent millions of dollars in litigation and settlements in court cases involving sexual harassment.
Claim made by: Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez
Fact: Public records show that since January, 2009, there has only been one sexual harassment settlement, in which the City paid a total of $585,000.
Last month, at the October 1 City Council meeting, Milpitas resident Joseph Weinstein spoke during Public Comment about a statement Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez made to The Beat in late September.
In an interview where the Vice Mayor mentioned she was stepping out of the Assembly District 25 race, she spoke of the sexual harassment policies at City Hall, and had this to say:
“The policies had not been updated since the 1950s, and we have spent millions of dollars in litigation and settling in court cases. That is wasted tax dollars that could have been dedicated to programs and city services. These policies remind staff and City Council that harassment and bullying have no place in city hall and nobody has to tolerate it.”
Weinstein, upon reading Dominguez’s comments, felt positive that she did not have the proper facts. He questioned whether or not it was true that the City actually “spent millions of dollars in litigation and settling in court cases.”
At Public Comment, he asked The Beat to perform a Fact Check, while also doing his own Public Records Request about Dominguez’s claims.
“I’ve lived here for years. I don’t know anything about millions of dollars in suits and settlements,” said Weinstein at the meeting.
Upon studying the Public Records, The Beat learned that in the past 10 years the City has paid out a total of $585,000, in one sexual harassment settlement.
In reaching out to Vice Mayor Dominguez about what the Public Records Request revealed, she sent us this statement:
I understand that harassment claims and lawsuits generally, including retaliation and other similar claims against the City, easily amounts to over one million dollars spent by our City. These figures are verifiable with City staff. The amount that has been shared with me by staff with regard to sexual harassment is $585,000. This amount doesn’t include any staff cost or attorney expenses that the City spent to address these concerns. These costs, regardless of the amount, impact all of our city residents. Although the dollars spent by the City on harassment claims specific to sexual harassment appears to be a little below one million dollars we must remember that even one incident is far too many.
Residents tax dollars should be invested into city services. I came to City Hall to help lead a positive change in our culture here at city hall and to help update our outdated policies. I am proud of the work that our council has done together. It’s thanks to that work that we can now state that we have updated some of our policies to address these issues and continue to work to address these issues so they do not occur at the City. I know that the work we are doing will keep our staff safe and residents too. Harassment claims are a real issue, and I’m going to keep tackling this issue head on because it’s about more than just the fiduciary impact, but of the health of our community.
I am always available to connect on this issue or any other. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 669.228.1623.
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