WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with the University of North Carolina and its constituent institution, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, that, if approved and entered by the Court, will resolve a complaint of employment discrimination that was filed by the United States against the University under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
Under the terms of the consent decree, the University will pay $29,000 in compensatory damages to Ms. Murray and $26,000 in compensatory damages to Ms. Smith. In addition, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University must revise its sexual harassment policies; provide mandatory training regarding Title VII’s prohibitions against sex discrimination and sexual harassment; implement and distribute newly revised anti-harassment policies; retain certain records; not provide negative employment references for Ms. Murray and Ms. Smith; and be subject to compliance monitoring by the United States.
“This consent decree sends the important message that sexual harassment against employees in public universities will not be tolerated and that public employers must have mechanisms in place to prevent and correct sexual harassment in a prompt and effective manner,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “I am pleased that we were able to work with the University to arrive at a resolution that will put such mechanisms in place to prevent and correct sexual harassment.”
The United States alleged in its complaint that the University discriminated against Tasha Murray and Mattie Smith on the basis of sex while they were employed in the Department of Police and Public Safety at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, by subjecting them to sexual harassment that created a hostile work environment and by failing to take appropriate action to remedy the discrimination. The United States’ complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Ms. Murray and Ms. Smith had filed charges of employment discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging sex discrimination. The EEOC investigated the matter and found reasonable cause to believe that violations of Title VII occurred before referring the charges to the Justice Department.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of gender, 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 the Civil Rights Act and other federal employment laws is available on the Department of Justice Internet site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp/index.html.