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Iowa board votes to settle 2 sexual harassment lawsuits

January 12, 2022 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state panel on Tuesday approved settlements of two sexual harassment lawsuits filed by employees who alleged they were mistreated at work.

The State Appeal Board approved a $962,500 settlement with Jennifer Jackson, who alleged in a February 2020 lawsuit that she was forced to watch other female employees endure sexual harassment by her female supervisor, including vulgar harassing comments and grabbing women’s breasts at work.

Jackson had worked at the Iowa Department of Human Services as a social worker since 2012. The supervisor was fired in February 2019 but Jackson said state officials didn’t take her complaints seriously.

Jackson will receive a payment of $205,000 and monthly payments of $4,643 for seven years through November 2029. Her attorney will get more than $387,000.

Appeal Board member Rob Sand, the state auditor, voted against the settlement because the state is not seeking restitution from the supervisor. It passed 2-1 with State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and Iowa Department of Revenue Director Kraig Paulsen voting in favor.

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A second settlement will pay $25,000 to the mother of Francisco Miramontes. He was a judicial branch employee in Polk County in the traffic division from 2011 to 2017. He claimed he was harassed by two female employees who would inappropriately touch him, make sexual advances and sexual gestures to him.

The settlement is with his estate because he died in a motorcycle accident in Des Moines in June 2020. He was 32.

The board also approved a $325,000 settlement with Pam Ries, who sued the University of Iowa and the state alleging age and gender discrimination by the university, which fired her without following the human resources manual.