The NBC2 Investigators uncover millions of your tax dollars spent to pay for for sexual harassment committed by state workers.

These government employees claim they were sexually harassed by supervisors, co-workers or they were forced to work in hostile environments.

The NBC2 Investigators spent months studying how the state handles these sexual harassment claims.

Since 1997, the state has settled 253 sexual harassment settlements, quietly costing taxpayers 8.2 million dollars.

Kathy Rudolph’s Story
“We put up with a lot of gunning which is masturbation, facial expressions, obscene gestures with their tongues,” said Kathy Rudolph, a victim of sexual harassment. “It was horrible. It was horrible.”

Rudolph worked for the Florida Department of Corrections for 23 years. She worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), a staff nurse, a charge nurse, and a director of nursing. She worked for Washington Correctional Institution, which is now called Northwest Florida Reception Center, near Panama City during the 1990s.

“Things really started turning for the worst when we got close management. Close management is where an inmate stays in a cell by themselves. Of course they have rec time, but they can’t be out in the open population and that’s when things started turning for the worst,” said Rudolph. “We had to look in every cell because that was our job, to make sure everybody’s breathing. They’d hear the cart and they’d start as soon as we round the corner, cat calling us. It was daily.”

According to the lawsuit, Rudolph said inmates “regularly exposed their genitals and masturbated at her.”

And while bad behavior by inmates may be expected, it’s what Rudolph said her bosses did that forced her to take a stand.

“When you filed disciplinary reports and complaints, what did your supervisors do?” NBC2 Investigator Rachel Polansky asked Rudolph.

“Nothing. They basically told us you’re in a male prison you gotta live with it,” said Rudolph.
So Rudolph, along with two dozen nurses from around the state, filed this class action lawsuit.

“I just knew it was wrong, something had to be done, and this was the only way we were gonna get anything done,” said Rudolph.

After 6 years of litigation, their suit was settled for 1.3 million taxpayer dollars.

Rebecca Claypoole’s Story

“They just made sexual jokes and comments. Is that what you want to do? Is that how you like it?,” said Rebecca Claypoole, victim of sexual harassment.

Rebecca Claypoole said she was also sexually harassed on the job. She was a toll booth collector in Collier County in 1997, working for the Department of Transportation. She said co-workers taunted her and posted sexually explicit photographs in her locker and on her car.

“Naked woman, naked men, some of them were having intercourse, just stuff I didn’t want to see at work,” said Claypoole.

And when she reported the harassment to her higher-up’s, she said they didn’t take her seriously

“They laughed. They didn’t care,” said Claypoole.

A few months later, she was fired.

“Do you believe you were fired as a result of your complaints to these unwelcome sexual acts and comments?” NBC2 investigator Rachel Polansky asked Claypoole.

“Oh yeah. There’s no doubt about that, none,” said Claypoole.

Claypoole sued the Department of Transportation for sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

Two years later, her case was settled for $60,000 tax dollars.