FBI reviewing sexual harassment, retaliation in state capitol

FBI reviewing sexual harassment, retaliation in state capitol
Jeff Hoover

LOUISVILLE KY (WAVE) - From Hollywood to the Bluegrass State, allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace continue to surface.

Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover stepped down as Speaker of the House over the weekend.

During his press conference Sunday afternoon, Hoover admitted to sending inappropriate text messages but said they were consensual.

An attorney for the accuser says she had valid claims, and all parties met and reached a resolution.

"Our firm represents the complainant concerning the allegations regarding Jeff Hoover, and others," attorney Thomas Clay said. "Our client had legitimate concerns about workplace conduct and authorized us to raise these concerns directly with Speaker Hoover. The day after our letter was sent, counsel for Speaker Hoover contacted us and indicated a willingness to meet and discuss issues raised, with a goal of resolving the situation.

"Shortly thereafter, both sides agreed upon mediation. All parties negotiated in good faith, with a goal of resolving the dispute and ensuring the continued successful employment of our client. As is customary in such disputes, confidentiality was important to all the participants. Our client was not coerced by anyone to resolve the matter, and has been satisfied with the resolution. She looks forward to moving past this matter. "

Attorney P. Stewart Abney said settling sexual harassment cases is a common practice which is why many people don't realize how prevalent these cases are.

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"The vast majority of these claims do get settled under confidentiality terms. No one other than the parties involved ever learns of what happened," Abney said.

Abney said the cases are frequent and more people are coming forward after sexual harassment cases have been in the spotlight recently. Most common are the cases that involve a boss/lower level employee relationship.

"Often you do see the boss harassing the lower level employee. Because of the power differential it makes it much easier for the boss to get away with it," Abney said.

Abney says the definition of sexual harassment is wide. If you feel like you might be experiencing it, report it to a human resources employee or supervisor. And write everything down.

"Document, document, document," Abney said. "Fortunately in this day and age everybody has text messages. And that's one of the things that came out in speaker hoovers case."

The FBI sent the following statement:

"The FBI received information regarding sexual harassment and retaliation claims made by employees working in the state capitol. We are reviewing that information and the allegations surrounding it to determine whether or not there is a violation of federal law."

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