City of Caribou, Maine, Agrees to Settle Justice Department Lawsuit Alleging Sex Discrimination
The Justice Department announced today that it has agreed to enter into a consent decree with the city of Caribou, Maine, that, if approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, will resolve allegations that Caribou discriminated against a female employee based upon her sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The department’s complaint alleges that Caribou discriminated against a female city employee when she was regularly subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace by the city’s former Fire Chief, Roy Woods. According to the complaint, the sexual harassment of the victim included both unwanted touching and comments, culminating in Mr. Woods sexually assaulting the victim. At the time of the assault, the victim was 18 years old and worked for Caribou under Mr. Woods’ supervision. Mr. Woods was 66.
According to the department’s complaint, Caribou did not take reasonable steps to prevent Woods’ unlawful acts. For instance, supervisory employees with Caribou knew that Woods had a history of sexually harassing women in the workplace but Caribou never took any action to stop his harassment. Caribou did not take any corrective action at all until Dec. 27, 2011, after Woods had assaulted the victim. The victim was never provided with Caribou’s sexual harassment policy and was unaware of the process for reporting Woods’ illegal conduct before it escalated to an assault. The department’s complaint was based on a charge of discrimination filed by the victim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Maine Human Rights Commission that was forwarded to the department by the EEOC’s Boston Office.
Under the terms of the consent decree, once approved by the district court, Caribou is required to review and revise its sexual harassment policies in order to protect its employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. Caribou must provide training to its employees on its newly revised policies for the prevention of sexual harassment. The consent decree also requires Caribou to pay the victim a monetary award of $85,000.
“All Americans are entitled to a workplace that is free of unlawful harassment based upon sex,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “The early resolution of this case, without contested litigation, was in the best interests of all parties concerned.”
The United States is represented in this case by Civil Rights Division attorney Allan Townsend.
The enforcement of Title VII is a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its web sites at http://www.justice.gov/crt/ and http://www.justice.gov/crt/emp/.