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Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Friday, September 25, 2009

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Alleging Retaliation by Franklin County, North Carolina

The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit in federal court in Raleigh, N.C., against Franklin County, N.C., alleging that the county retaliated against a former employee in its Department of Public Utilities, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, after the employee complained about sexual harassment by a co-worker. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion. Title VII also prohibits retaliation against employees for opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe are discriminatory or for filing a complaint of employment discrimination.

According to the complaint, while Karen Dorrans was employed by the county, she complained to her supervisor and human resources manager about what she believed to be sexual harassment by a co-worker. The county instructed Dorrans that, in order for it to consider her complaint, she first had to confront the alleged harasser. According to the Justice Department’s complaint, since Dorrans did not confront the alleged harasser, and in retaliation for her complaints, the county disciplined Dorrans by extending her probationary period of employment by six months, denying her a salary increase, issuing her a disciplinary "final warning" and significantly lowering her quarterly job performance ratings. The Justice Department is seeking an order from the court that the county take remedial steps to ensure a non-retaliatory workplace for its employees and that the county provide Dorrans with remedial relief, including back pay with interest and compensatory damages.

"All workers deserve the freedom to go to work each day without fear of discrimination. Public employers should set an example for others by upholding the law and taking prompt and effective action to stop discrimination and retaliation," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the Civil Rights Division. "The Department of Justice will vigorously pursue such violations of Title VII."

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.usdoj.gov/crt/ and http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014