State Assembly paid $140,000 to settle sexual harassment claim

The Associated Press
Monday January 21, 2002

SACRAMENTO – The state Assembly paid a female staff member $140,000 in the settlement of a sexual harassment complaint, a newspaper reported Sunday. 

The settlement, reached in May 2000, was obtained through the Legislative Open Records Act by The Sacramento Bee. In the settlement, the Assembly Rules Committee denied any admission of liability or that the Assembly acted wrongly. 

The settlement identifies Rebecca Miles, who worked for the Assembly from February 1997 to May 2000, but does not identify the people she alleges harassed her. 

The Bee did obtain complaints filed by Miles that allege her supervisor and Assemblyman Lou Papan, D-Millbrae, harassed her. 

A complaint filed by Miles in April 2000, obtained by The Bee through the California Public Records Act, said she had been harassed by Papan on one occasion. 

Papan said he didn’t “recall any of that” when responding to the allegation. 

Miles alleged Papan’s actions stopped only when Assemblyman Mike Machado intervened. 

“The behavior of my colleague was inappropriate and I told him to stop and that we should leave,” Machado, D-Linden, told The Bee. “He was embarrassing her and bantering about her physique.” 

But the bulk of the allegations focused on Luke Breit, Miles’ supervisor in the Speaker’s Office of Member Services. 

Breit declined to comment to The Bee and referred questions to Jon Waldie, the Rules Committee’s chief administrative officer, who said an investigation found Miles’ allegations groundless. 

“Our conclusion was basically that if we had gone to litigation, we would have defeated her,” Waldie said. “But when you look at the cost of litigation versus the cost of settlement, ultimately it was decided to settle.”