The District of Columbia will pay $8 million to settle a sexual harassment suit filed by seven D.C. Department of Corrections employees in 1994. The plaintiffs allege that sexual harassment, including outright demands for sex and punishment for those who refused sex, pervaded the agency.
A federal court jury found for the plaintiffs in 1995 and awarded $1.4 million to six of the eight women. In August of 1996, a federal appeals court voided the 1995 decision and ordered a new trial on the grounds that U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth erred in refusing the defense’s request to call non-expert witnesses. Under the terms of yesterday’s settlement, the eight plaintiff will share $1.6 million, or about 80% of what was awarded to them in the 1995 trial. Two other plaintiffs will receive $80,000 each and the large remainder of the settlement, minus the attorneys’ $2 million fee, will be shared among women who worked at the agency between April 4, 1991 and July 22, 1997 and reported that they were harassed.