Friday, November 24, 2017
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Tampa-based labor lawyer chosen to lead Senate’s sexual harassment investigation

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Sexual harassment complaints are now being accepted in the Florida Senate.

Senate President Joe Negron announced Thursday that a law firm has been chosen, a lead investigator has been named, and a phone number has been offered up to the unnamed accusers who for the last week have refrained from coming forward after alleging in Politico Florida that were victims of unwanted physical touching and inappropriate language by Sen. Jack Latvala.

Negron announced that individuals may contact Gail Golman Holtzmana principal in the Tampa office of Jackson Lewis P.C., who is handling the investigation, by calling her assistant, Nicole Villa, to schedule appointments beginning tomorrow at 813.512.3215.

Negron launch an investigation a day after the charges surfaced in the Politico Florida report. He assigned the task of finding someone to head the effort to Karen Chandler, coordinator of the Office of Legislative Services.

Chandler reviewed five law firms and selected Jackson Lewis, a national law firm that specializes in employment law and said Holtzman will serve as the lead attorney and primary contact in the investigation.

In a memo to Negron, she said OLS "sought initial guidance from law professors at state universities in identifying firms specializing in this field. Consideration was given to firms with sufficient and balanced resources to conduct an investigation of this nature in a time sensitive manner. Other criteria that were considered in order to ensure a fair and objective investigation were its independence from the Florida Legislature in regards to appropriation of state funds and governmental relations."

She said OLS also considered firms "that could accommodate the sensitive nature of the subject matter given that media reports stated that the victims were fearful of sharing their experiences."

Holtzman, who has more than 30 years experience practicing law, specializes in "federal and state labor and employment claims…including those alleging discrimination, harassment, retaliation/whistleblower, wage/hour and breach of employment contract."

She is the immediate past chair of the ABA Labor and Employment Section. Jackson Lewis has more than 800 attorneys in major cities nationwide and focuses primarily on workplace law.

The Senate confirmed Thursday that it has received a sworn complaint from one individual alleging harassment, but has refused to name which senator it made the allegations against.

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