The following is a statement from Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz in regards to Legislator Lynne Dixon’s request for information regarding possible confidential settlements by Erie County for sexual harassment claims:
I am disappointed Legislator Lynne Dixon went to the press before contacting my office or the Erie County Attorney’s Office for the facts on the issue of whether during the past 5 years Erie County entered into confidential sexual harassment settlements. If she had done so she would have learned:
(1) All settlements reached in lawsuits involving Erie County are a matter of public record and are subject to FOIA, so the information is available to anyone who requests it and settlements are not confidential or secret;
(2) While the plaintiff/claimant might agree to confidentiality, Erie County is prohibited by law from doing the same;
(3) In addition, all claims against Erie County are clocked in at the Legislature and are available for any Legislator to see, so if the Legislator had actually reviewed these claim reports she would have known what actions have been alleged against Erie County; and
(4) The County Attorney’s office has conducted an initial review of its records, which did not reveal any lawsuit settlements for sexual harassment in the workplace over the last 5 years. Hence, no taxpayer dollars have been used to settle such claims.
My administration takes the issue of sexual harassment seriously and will continue to take all steps necessary to prevent it in all county workplaces. In the meantime, I hope the Legislator will actually contact my office or the county attorney’s office, or review the applicable report filed with the Legislature, for accurate information before going to the press on an important issue such as this one.