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Friday, October 5, 2012

Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against City of Selma, Texas, for Retaliating Against Firefighter

The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a settlement to resolve allegations that the city of Selma, Texas, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by engaging in retaliation against a firefighter for filing a complaint against a superior for using ethnic slurs in the workplace.

The department’s complaint alleges that the city discriminated against Adam Sadler, who is employed by the city, by demoting him from lieutenant to firefighter because he filed a complaint regarding the fire chief’s use of ethnic slurs in the workplace.  Title VII prohibits an employer from retaliating against an individual for opposing any employment practice that would violate Title VII, for filing a complaint of discrimination, or for assisting in the investigation of such a complaint.

Under the terms of the consent decree, the city will modify its existing Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies and procedures to include, among other things, a specific process by which complaints of discrimination and retaliation will be investigated.  The city also will provide live training to all city supervisory employees and all city fire department employees concerning the new EEO policies, including Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination and retaliation.  Additionally, the city will pay Sadler, who has since secured employment with another fire department, $28,500 in back pay.

“Title VII protects employees who oppose workplace discrimination from retaliation.  A person cannot be demoted from his position simply because he reports the use of discriminatory language in the workplace by a supervisor,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing Title VII’s anti-retaliation provisions, which are critical to ensure effective protection from discrimination.”

“We are pleased that the city of Selma has agreed to additional EEO training for its staff,” said Robert L. Pitman, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas.  “All public servants must be held to a high standard when it comes to treating one another – as well as the public – with dignity, respect, and equality.”

The San Antonio Field Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated and attempted to resolve Mr. Sadler’s charge of discrimination before referring it to the Department of Justice for litigation.  More information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.           

The enforcement of the Title VII is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 10, 2015