The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with the city of Millbrook, Ala., that, if approved by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, will resolve the department’s complaint alleging sex discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The complaint, which was filed along with a proposed consent decree, alleges that Millbrook discriminated against Kristen Spraggins, a female officer employed by the Millbrook Police Department, by subjecting her to harassment and disparate treatment based on her sex, and then terminating her in retaliation for her opposition to the discrimination.
Spraggins began employment with Millbrook as patrol officer in January 2008 and, at the time, was Millbrook’s only female police officer. According to the complaint, Spraggins received excellent performance evaluations from her superiors in the Millbrook Police Department until she rejected unwanted sexual advances by a co-worker and reported those advances to her superiors. The complaint alleges that Millbrook violated Title VII by failing to take effective disciplinary action against the co-worker who harassed her, a male sergeant, and instead subjecting Spraggins to unwarranted disciplinary actions. The complaint further alleges that Millbrook eventually terminated Spraggins from employment with the Police Department in retaliation for her pursuing internal complaints with the department about the sexual harassment and because she filed a charge of sex discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Under the terms of the consent decree, Millbrook must pay Spraggins compensatory damages as part of the settlement with the department. The consent decree also provides for injunctive relief requiring Millbrook to revise and enforce its policies and procedures that prohibit sex discrimination and retaliation, and to train its officers and other employees on the prevention of sex discrimination and retaliation.
“The Justice Department is committed to the vigorous enforcement of all federal civil rights laws under its jurisdiction, including Title VII’s prohibition against harassment and retaliation in the workplace,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “This lawsuit should send a clear message that the Department will take necessary action to eliminate and remedy the effects of unlawful harassment in our public sector workplaces.”
The enforcement of Title VII and other federal employment discrimination laws is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and its work is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.