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Justice Department Settles Sexual Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit Against Escambia County, Ala., Board of Education

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement resolving the Department’s lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination and retaliation in employment against the Escambia County, Ala., Board of Education.

The government’s lawsuit, filed in March 2005, alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the board engaged in unlawful employment discrimination by subjecting Betty J. Hooks, a former custodial employee, to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliated against her by terminating her employment for complaining about what she reasonable believed to be sexual harassment against her. Hooks joined the government’s lawsuit as a plaintiff-intervenor.

“There is no excuse for sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to making certain that all employees are treated equally according to law.”

The proposed consent decree, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, Southern Division, requires the Escambia County Board of Education to provide a total of $165,000 in compensation to Ms. Hooks, including $62,000 in attorneys fees for her private counsel; adopt procedures to ensure that all complaints of sexual harassment are properly investigated; ensure that its sexual harassment policy is distributed to all current employees and is posted in all buildings of the school district; provide new employees with a copy of the policy and require their signed acknowledgment of its existence; and provide training to all of its employees regarding Title VII’s prohibition against sexual harassment.

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at