The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement agreement with the Sheriff of Mobile County, Alabama, to resolve the department’s lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

The settlement agreement resolves the department’s allegations that female corrections officers at the Mobile County Metro Jail were regularly subjected to severe and pervasive sexual harassment in the workplace by male inmates and that, despite the employees’ numerous reports to jail supervisors objecting to the harassment, the sheriff’s office did not take the complaints seriously and failed to take prompt and effective action to remedy this harassing conduct.

The department’s lawsuit also alleges that male inmates harassed female employees assigned to the jail’s housing units by frequently exposing their genitals to and masturbating at them, and that inmates also directed sexual slurs, sexual propositions, threats of sexual violence and sexually degrading comments toward female employees.

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“Employers must take appropriate action to protect their employees from sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Just like any other workplace, jails must take steps necessary to ensure that female employees are not subject to a sexually hostile work environment in any form.”

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, if approved by the court, the sheriff will pay $2.02 million into a settlement fund that will be used to compensate those women who were harmed by the employment practices challenged by the United States. The agreement also requires the sheriff to develop a comprehensive inmate sexual misconduct policy; train all jail employees on the new policy related to inmate sexual misconduct; maintain a dedicated housing area to house inmates found guilty of sexual misconduct; and appoint an Inmate Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Hearing Officer to monitor and track compliance with the new inmate sexual misconduct policy.

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This lawsuit is part of the Civil Rights Division’s Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Initiative. The initiative is aimed at eradicating sexual harassment in state and local government workplaces. It focuses on litigation, outreach and development of effective remedial measures to address and prevent future sex discrimination and harassment.

Trial Attorneys Taryn Wilgus Null, Alicia Johnson, Juliet Gray, Emily Given, Catherine Sellers, Sharion Scott and Julia Quinn of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section prosecuted the case.