The Justice Department today moved to intervene in Murphy-Taylor v. State of Maryland, et al., a private lawsuit alleging sex discrimination by the state of Maryland, Queen Anne’s County and the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff. The United States’ complaint in intervention alleges that Kristy Murphy-Taylor’s supervisors in the sheriff’s office subjected her to severe sexual harassment and retaliated against her when she complained. The complaint alleges that these actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
According to the complaint, over a number of years Ms. Murphy-Taylor was subjected to numerous acts of unwanted sexual conduct by multiple supervisors including, multiple incidents of unwanted sexual touching, sexually explicit comments about Ms. Murphy-Taylor and other female officers, and derogatory comments about Ms. Murphy-Taylor based on her sex and about women in general.
Despite Ms. Murphy-Taylor’s complaints to supervisory officials about the unwelcome conduct, the complaint alleges that the defendants failed to take prompt and effective corrective action, subjected her to intolerable working conditions intended to make her quit, and ultimately terminated her for complaining about the sexual harassment.
The United States determined that this case represents a matter of general public importance and that the Department of Justice should participate in it. By intervening, the United States will ensure that the law continues to protect employees and that the price of earning a living will not be enduring constant sexual harassment. The relief sought by the United States is past and future lost wages and compensatory damages for Ms. Murphy-Taylor as well as the implementation of effective sexual harassment policies and procedures and training on these policies and procedures.
Ms. Murphy-Taylor filed a charge of sex discrimination and retaliation with the Baltimore District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After investigating these charges, finding reasonable cause to believe that the charging party was subject to discrimination because of her sex, and unsuccessfully attempting to conciliate the matter, the EEOC referred the charges to the Department of Justice. This lawsuit is brought by the Department of Justice as a result of a project designed to ensure vigorous enforcement of Title VII against state and local governmental employers by enhancing cooperation between the EEOC and the Civil Rights Division.
“The Department of Justice will not stand by while women are forced to endure unwanted sexual conduct in their workplaces and then penalized for protesting it,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Through our partnership with the EEOC, the department continues its commitment to vigorously enforcing the right of employees to be free from sex discrimination in the work place.”
“The work of the commission is made more effective and efficient with interagency coordination,” said Jacqueline A. Berrien, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “Our ongoing project with the Justice Department helps to ensure that employees receive the full protection of the laws prohibiting workplace discrimination.”
“By working more closely together in appropriate cases, EEOC and DOJ are able to use our resources more efficiently to ensure the vigorous enforcement of Title VII in the public sector,” said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis Jr., of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion, and prohibits retaliation against an employee who opposes an unlawful employment practice, or because the employee has made a charge or participated in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under the Act. More information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp/index.html .
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.