Have city leaders had to pay out for harassment claims? No one knows

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City legal says they don't track sexual harassment claims. (KTRK)

In light of the national news about harassment and stories of taxpayer dollars being spent to settle claims, our investigative team wanted to know how much was being spent on employment or harassment-related claims here.

But ABC13 Investigates didn't get far and it turns out if city leaders wanted to know to see how big of a problem it is, they wouldn't get far either.

In the last decade, hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money has gone to settle harassment claims in Congress -- including Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold. He's promised he'll return the $85,000 paid out of your money to settle at least one claim.

Back here in Houston, our team wanted to know how much the city of Houston has paid in the last decade on similar claims.

So we asked city attorneys, who told us they didn't know and said there's no way to find out because they don't keep track of it.

They did offer us a list they keep of all claims paid out over the last ten years, but that list doesn't actually say what the claims are for, just a date and a dollar amount.

Alfonso Kennard is a Houston employment attorney who's handled hundreds of sexual harassment cases.

"If you don't know how many cases you've settled or how much money you've paid out what does that say about how well you know how big of a problem you have?" asked ABC13's Ted Oberg.

"I think that's a problem no doubt," Kennard said.

Kennard says whether its a city or a company, the cases are the same: both can be held financially responsible for harassment and the best way to identify and understand the problem? Knowing how many complaints are being filed.

"I think the best companies are aware and make themselves aware at the appropriate higher levels," Kennard said.

Not all states, including Texas require state leaders to have training on sexual harassment.

Explore the interactive below to see state-by-state policies.

Related Topics:
politicshouston city councilTed Oberg Investigatesharassmentsexual harassmentlawsuit
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