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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Alleging Retaliation by City of Fort Pierce, Florida

The Justice Department today announced that it has reached a consent decree with the city of Fort Pierce, Fla., that, if approved by the U.S. District Court, will resolve the department’s lawsuit against the city alleging that it retaliated against a former employee in its Code Enforcement Department, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion, and also prohibits retaliation against employees for opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe are discriminatory under Title VII or for filing a complaint of employment discrimination.

The department’s complaint, filed on August 25, 2008, alleged that the city unlawfully retaliated against former Code Enforcement Officer Shirley Kirby because she complained of racial discrimination against her and three other African-American Code Enforcement Officers. The consent decree requires that the city provide Kirby with $150,000 ($110,000 in compensatory damages and $40,000 in back pay and lost benefits). The decree also requires the city to provide its employees with training regarding workplace discrimination and retaliation, as well as to review its policies regarding discrimination and retaliation and, where necessary, amend those policies to comply with the law.

"Our nation’s civil rights laws ensure that every individual can go to work each day without fear of discrimination based on the color of their skin," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez. "We are pleased that the city of Fort Pierce has agreed to make Ms. Kirby whole for her losses and to take steps to ensure that its employees comply with Title VII’s prohibitions against discrimination and retaliation in the future."

The enforcement of Title VII is a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its Web sites at http://www.justice.gov/crt/ and http://www.justice.gov/crt/emp/.

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