Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against the Sheriff of Bryan County, Oklahoma, Alleging Pregnancy Discrimination

The Department today entered into a consent decree with the sheriff of Bryan County, Okla., that, if approved by the U.S. District Court in Muskogee, Okla., will resolve the Department’s employment discrimination complaint against the Sheriff, also filed today with the court.

The complaint alleges that the sheriff, in his official capacity, engaged in a pattern and practice of employment discrimination against women based on pregnancy by requiring the reassignment of female confinement officers employed at the Bryan County Jail to administrative duties upon their becoming pregnant, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex (including pregnancy), national origin or religion.

The consent decree prohibits the sheriff from engaging in any act or practice that discriminates against any employee of, or applicant for employment with, the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, including the Bryan County Jail, on the basis of sex and pregnancy in violation of Title VII. The consent decree also requires the sheriff to implement and disseminate a policy that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and to provide mandatory training regarding sex and pregnancy discrimination to all employees.

"The Justice Department commends the sheriff of Bryan County for working cooperatively with us to resolve this matter. We are pleased that the sheriff has agreed to promptly implement new policies and procedures that comply with Title VII," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously enforce the right of pregnant employees to be free of discrimination in the workplace."

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has jurisdiction to bring lawsuits under Title VII against state and local governments, and the enforcement of Title VII has been a priority of the Division. Visit http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ for information about the Civil Rights Division and http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp for additional information about its enforcement of Title VII.

09-598