WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Municipio de Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, to resolve allegations that the municipality engaged in unlawful employment discrimination based on sex and retaliated against an officer who cooperated in the related federal investigation.
The Department’s complaint, filed March 21, 2006, in U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, alleged that the municipality violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against three female police officers and by retaliating against a male officer who cooperated with a federal investigation. Specifically, the suit alleged that the municipality excluded female police officers Laura Molina Rodríguez, Iris Bidot Figueroa, and Madeleine García González from supervisory duties, regular shift work, driving patrol cars, and conducting investigations because of their gender. The complaint also alleged that the municipality retaliated against former officer Rafael Miranda Vázquez for participating in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s investigation of the charges of gender discrimination filed by female officer García González. On July 19, 2006, the four officers filed an intervenors’ complaint pursuant to Title VII and Puerto Rico anti-discrimination statutes.
The consent decree, approved today by U. S. District Court Judge Juan M. Pérez Giménez of the District of Puerto Rico, resolves the allegations of the lawsuit. Under the terms of the agreement, the municipality will offer monetary awards totaling $225,000, including attorney’s fees, to the four officers/intervenor plaintiffs. The municipality will also provide training on equal employment opportunity law, including discrimination based on gender and retaliation, to all supervisors in its police department.
“We are pleased that the municipality has agreed to resolve this case by entering into an appropriate consent decree,” said Rena J. Comisac, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “Women are entitled to equal employment opportunities, and may not be excluded from certain duties and assignments simply because the employer believes they are not the kind of work that should be performed by a woman. Nor can a public employer retaliate against employees because they participate in a federal investigation.”
The continued enforcement of Title VII has been a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/.