Justice News

Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 29, 2009
Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against Sheriff of Hendry County, Florida, Alleging Pregnancy Discrimination

The Department today has entered into a consent decree that, if approved by the U.S District Court in Fort Myers, Fla., will resolve its complaint against the Sheriff of Hendry County, Fla., and the Hendry County Board of County Commissioners.

The complaint, filed in December 2008, alleged that the sheriff’s predecessor discriminated against Tanya Shaw, a former deputy sheriff with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), on the basis of pregnancy and engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against Shaw and other pregnant employees of the HCSO by maintaining a policy requiring pregnant employees to take mandatory light duty regardless of their ability to perform the essential functions of their jobs 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 Justice Department’s consent decree with the sheriff and the Board of County Commissioners requires the sheriff to implement a policy that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy; and to provide mandatory training regarding sex and pregnancy discrimination to HCSO officials, managers, supervisors and administrators. Additionally, the consent decree requires that the sheriff provide Shaw with a monetary award of $33,280 for lost wages and compensatory damages, and offer her an opportunity for reinstatement. Two other HCSO female employees who also were subjected to the mandatory light duty policy will receive $1,500 in compensatory damages under the terms of the consent decree.

"The Justice Department commends the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office for working cooperatively with us to resolve this matter. We are pleased that the sheriff has agreed to implement promptly new policies and procedures that comply with Title VII and to provide relief to the individuals who were harmed by the discriminatory light duty policy," 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."

Visit http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp/index.html for more information about the Civil Rights Division’s enforcement of Title VII.

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