MADISON, Wis. — The state has paid out nearly $600,000 over the last decade to settle allegations of sexual misconduct by University of Wisconsin-Madison employees.
New documents obtained by the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel show 20 sexual harassment cases have been filed against university workers since 2008. Six cases led to payouts totaling $591,050.
The largest settlement, for $250,000, was in 2008. That case involved accusations that three male employees in Facilities Planning and Management sexually harassed a female co-worker. One of the workers asked the woman to have sex with him, according to the accuser's lawsuit, and after she refused he retaliated against with unwarranted discipline and unfavorable working conditions.
In another case that resulted in a $119,000 payout, a female worker in the medical school's OB-GYN department accused a supervisor of sending an email to several female employees showing cows having sex. A human resources employee threatened to fire her and told her to quit if she didn't like her supervisors' behavior.
At least one case resulted in a firing last year. An unidentified academic staff member lost his job after a student accused him of sexually assaulting her in his office.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank addressed the document release by writing on her blog that everyone on campus deserves an environment free of harassment. She added that complaints were spread across departments and the university now requires all complaints be reported to the Title IX coordinator so it's easier to address them. Also, the school is adding investigative staff within the Office of Compliance to help respond to sexual harassment complaints, Blank said.