From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...
By Chris Opfer
The Florida Senate wants federal investigators to drop an inquiry into a staffer’s claims that former lawmaker and candidate for governor Jack Latvala (R) groped and harassed her in the state capitol.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says the state legislature is liable for Latvala’s alleged harassment of Rachel Perrin Rogers, an aide for Sen. Wilton Simpson (R). But lawyers for the state Senate told a federal judge Oct. 9 that the EEOC doesn’t have the power to pursue the claims in front of an EEOC administrative law judge.
“The ongoing EEOC action violates the Florida Senate’s sovereign and constitutional rights,” senate lawyers said in a court filing.
The lawsuit comes as the EEOC is stepping up enforcement of federal workplace harassment law in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The U.S. Congress and state legislatures across the country have also been under the microscope for work cultures that critics say allow some powerful lawmakers to take advantage of staffers and lobbyists.
A retired state judge appointed by the legislature last year found probable cause to believe Perrin Rogers’ allegations that Latvala groped and verbally harassed her on several occasions, including in an elevator inside the state capitol building. Perrin Rogers also alleges that she was retaliated against after her complaint became public. Latvala later resigned and dropped out of the Florida governor’s race.
Tiffany Cruz, an attorney for Perrin Rogers, declined to comment. EEOC spokeswoman Christine Nazer said the agency doesn’t comment on ongoing cases.
Perrin Rogers has asked EEOC Administrative Law Judge Alexander Fernandez to force a number of high-profile politicians to testify in the case, including Senate President Joe Negron (R) and Attorney General Pam Bondi.
The Florida Senate says sovereign immunity bars the EEOC from pursuing the case. It also argues that any claims against it should he heard in a jury trial, rather than in a confidential EEOC proceeding.
“The Florida Senate has a zero tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment or misconduct of any kind against any employee or visitor,” Negron told Bloomberg Law via email. “The complaint of sexual harassment in this case was immediately and fully investigated. At all times the Senate has acted appropriately and there has been no retaliation.”
State prosecutors declined to charge Latvala on separate allegations that he offered to trade votes for sexual favors from lobbyists.
The case is Florida Senate v. EEOC, N.D. Fla., No. 4:18-cv-00465, complaint filed 10/9/18.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)