According to Austin News, the Williamson County Commissioners Court has voted to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought on against a retired judge. Former Judge Don Higginbotham’s case was settled for $375,000. According to court documents, former court reporter Kimberly Lee received $150,000 and former secretary Sharon McGuyver received $75,000. As part of the settlement, the defendants agreed to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees.
Lee and McGuyver filed a joint complaint in November alleging that Higginbotham engaged in sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and made racial remarks against the women. Both women lost their jobs with the court the same month their complaint was filed.
The judge retired in 2010 but continues to act as a visiting judge. The settlement will not affect or end his work for the county, where he was working as a visiting judge last week.
According to the complaint, Higginbotham told one employee that he needed help going to the bathroom because it was too heavy for him to hold it up because he has a bad back. The plaintiffs alleged the judge referred to his private parts. Another allegation made in the complaint was that the judge told one of the women that he could not see around her butt.
While these alleged comments were crude and easily identifiable it is not always the case with every incident of sexual harassment in the workplace. According to a study conducted by a medical student of D Y Patil Medical College, 61% of women are unaware that they have been exposed to sexual harassment because they cannot identify such behavior.