FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECR
TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2000(202) 514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT,
SEX DISCRIMINATION, AND RETALIATION LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY OF BELEN, NEW MEXICO
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The City of Belen, New Mexico has agreed to take steps to prevent sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and retaliation against women in its Police Department, under an agreement reached with the Justice Department.
In April 1999, the Justice Department filed a suit alleging that the City of Belen violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by maintaining a pattern of sexual harassment against women in its Police Department. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, also alleged that the city subjected a female former secretary in the Police Department to sexual harassment and retaliation, and subjected a female former Sergeant to sex discrimination and retaliation when it suspended and then terminated her after she assisted two female employees bring complaints of sexual harassment to the attention of management.
"Today's settlement is a comprehensive one designed to remedy the pattern of sexual harassment against women in the City's Police Department, and to prevent it from recurring," said Bill Lann Lee, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and retaliation in our nation's law enforcement agencies must not and will not be tolerated."
Under the settlement, approved by the Court last Wednesday, provides for the appointment of an outside Equal Employment Opportunity Monitor, who would, among other things, participate in the investigations of all complaints of sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and retaliation filed against employees in the Belen Police Department. The monitor would also make recommendations for appropriate remedial relief and disciplinary action. In addition, the settlement requires the City to implement a comprehensive sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and retaliation training program for employees in its Police Department.
"This is a significant lawsuit vindicating the rights of female police officers to be free of sexual harassment in this state. It was a monumental undertaking by the Department of Justice and the Office of the United States Attorney, but the United States will be unrelenting when grievous behavior of the kind addressed in this litigation is brought to our attention," said Norman C. Bay, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico.
The City has recently compensated three women on whose behalf the United States sought relief in this lawsuit. That compensation totaled approximately $560,000.