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Senior Florida banking regulator accused of sexual harassment

The Florida Department of Financial Services placed the state's most senior banking regulator on administrative leave on May 10 while a sexual harassment claim filed by an employee of the DFS's Office of Financial Regulation is investigated. In the press statement announcing the move, the chief financial officer of Florida said that the Office of the Inspector General had been called in to conduct the investigation.

The allegations were made public on May 11 when they were published in two leading Florida newspapers. The woman making the claims alleges that the commissioner of the OFR invited her to see how renovations were progressing on his condominium after the two had eaten lunch together. She says that she felt uncomfortable when the commissioner asked her to take off her shoes before entering the apartment. The woman also alleges that the commissioner asked her to join him on a business trip to Washington, D.C., and offered her the use of his apartment in the nation's capital whenever she visited the city.

The woman maintains that these advances were uninvited and unwelcome. She also says that she now becomes distressed whenever the commissioner approaches her in the office. Before being appointed Florida's leading banking regulator in February, the man worked with the House Committee on Financial Services and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Stepping forward to make claims of this kind against senior or powerful figures often takes a great deal of courage. This is especially true when the allegations are likely to attract the attention of the media. An attorney offering sexual harassment legal assistance could advise a client considering such a step to compile a detailed record of the events in question, including the names of any witnesses. A plaintiff should also keep copies of inappropriate emails or other communications.

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