Government & Politics

Jackson County pays $1.4 million to five former employees over harassment accusations

Jackson County will pay $1.4 million to settle sexual and racial harassment complaints brought by five ex-workers in the assessment department.

No details of the alleged mistreatment were included in the settlement agreement approved by the County Legislature on Monday. All five women signed agreements requiring them to keep the substance of their claims confidential.

But the document said the abusive behavior dated to the 1990s and continued until recently.

At least six county employees either engaged in the improper conduct or knew about it and did not report it, a county official said. All have left the payroll either through resignation, termination or retirement.

The women came forward with their concerns in the fall, a county official said. Heads of the department were thought to have no knowledge of any inappropriate conduct during the time it allegedly took place.

One of the women will receive half of the total, another gets $400,000, a third $150,000 and the other two $75,000 each.

The county’s legal counsel negotiated the agreement after conducting an investigation.

The assessment department came under fire last year for mishandling the 2013 reassessment. The department’s director at the time, Curtis Koons, resigned as a result of the flawed process.

Ferdinand Niemann was named to head the department on Monday. He had been acting director.