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Will Michigan Public Records Offer Fiscal Transparency on Sexual Harassment Settlements?

— January 10, 2022

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Lawmakers in Michigan are moving to enact legislation requiring the names and settlement amounts of any sexual harassment cases brought against elected officials and paid for with taxpayer funds to be made public. The goal of these bills is to add more transparency to the public regarding the history and character of officials chosen to serve in Michigan. While there are anti-harassment measures in place, elected officials cannot be fired even if they violate them. Since they can only be voted out of office, this legislation would allow the voters to make more informed decisions. 

A recent survey of women who have worked various jobs in Michigan politics found that sexual harassment was fairly common. These bills would make officials more accountable for their actions aiming to reduce the amount of sexual harassment that occurs.  Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace should seek legal counsel to discuss possible avenues to addresses actions that often impact the advancement of career goals in a negative way.


People in positions of authority in the workplace are often the culprits in sexual harassment lawsuits because they do not believe that their employees will report their egregious behavior.  The law addresses sexual harassment in the form of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature through:

  • Quid Pro Quo. Authoritative figures/bosses in the workplace demand, or require sexual acts for preferential treatment, or to avoid punitive action.
  • Hostile Work Environment. A boss or employer does not remedy a work environment where sexually inappropriate behavior is present creating intimidating, hostile and abusive work environments. 

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies, labor organizations, and the federal government.  If there is some reason that a victim is not protected under Title VII language, a civil rights, personal injury, or employment law attorney may be able to offer another means toward compensation when sexual harassment causes harm and damage to an employee.  

Sexual harassment claims

Sexual harassment claims cannot be made if the sexual behavior was welcomed, or occurred with mutual consent. Sexual harassment is illegal when it is so frequent, or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment, or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as a victim being fired, transferred, or demoted.  The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.  

Legal recourse

"A Country Lawyer from Mississippi" is Taking on the Crisis
Photo by Jeremy Beadle on Unsplash

Victims of sexual harassment have legal options against sexual harassment, and seeking legal counsel is the first thing a victim  should do after reporting the abuse through the proper channels at a place of employment, or at school, or wherever the incident took place; if there are procedural guidelines set up that must be followed.

Avenues for reporting

  • Direct reporting.
  • Requesting mediation as an informal solution. 
  • Employer grievance procedures.  
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the alleged sexual harassment in the workplace. 


Speak with an attorney regarding compensation.

  • Monetary damages including back pay, attorney and court fees, emotional pain, and negative effects of the harassment.
  • Equitable relief by job reinstatement, or promotion.
  • Punitive damages if actions were extremely offensive, and egregious sexual harassment misconduct. 

If you, or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment, or related sexual assault, seek out a professional attorney for guidance toward legal actions that will remedy the situation.


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