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Knowing Is Half the Battle

The city of Philadelphia recently settled a claim with a woman who said her supervisors knew for years that another employee was a harassment problem. The woman, Sherron Bell, was an employee in the Office of the City Commissioners’ voter registration division when Francisco Martinez exposed himself to her. She then discovered that Voter Registration Administrator Gregory Irving and City Commissioner Anthony Clark already knew about Martinez’s…issues.

Although city spokesperson Deana Gamble said that the city did not admit to any liability or wrongdoing in the settlement, it shelled out $350,000 to Ms. Bell. Three other women had previously come forward to accuse Martinez of sexual misconduct, and nothing was done about him.

In April 2016, Martinez lured Ms. Bell into a copy room, exposed himself to her, and then demanded that she touch him. Martinez admitted to masturbating in the office and had been walking around the office that day with his zipper open.

In just the last five years, the city has paid over $2 million to settle sexual misconduct claims, and Philadelphia has changed its sexual harassment procedures.

Ms. Bell’s settlement includes a six-month leave of absence, and she will be transferred to a new city position. What will happen to Martinez remains unknown.