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Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Monday, June 15, 2009

Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against the Sheriff of Harrison County, Indiana, Alleging Sex Discrimination

The Department today entered into a consent decree with Harrison County, Ind., Sheriff George Michael Deatrick, in his official capacity, the Harrison County Board of Commissioners and the Harrison County Council that, if approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, will resolve the Department’s complaint filed in March 2009 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

Title VII prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin and religion, as well as retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination.

The complaint alleged that Sheriff Deatrick subjected Deana Decker and Melissa Graham, former employees of the Sheriff’s Department, to sexual harassment by touching them in a sexual and offensive manner and directing sexually-charged comments to them in violation of Title VII. After Decker and Graham filed discrimination charges against Deatrick with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the complaint alleged that the sheriff retaliated against them by brandishing a gun and staring at them in order to intimidate and frighten them.

Under the terms of the consent decree, the sheriff, the council and the commissioners must pay $375,000 to Decker and Graham as part of the settlement reached with the Department and a separate lawsuit with the former employees. The consent decree also requires the sheriff to retain an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) trainer to conduct annual mandatory courses focused on preventing sex discrimination and retaliation and to appoint an EEO monitor to evaluate the practices of the sheriff in preventing sex discrimination and retaliation, investigate complaints concerning sex discrimination and retaliation, and report on the findings of the investigations to the Department of Justice.

"Women in the workplace have the right to earn a living without being subjected to sexual harassment, especially from their supervisors," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division is pleased that the sheriff of Harrison County will adopt a policy against sex discrimination, provide training to its employees as to the requirements of Title VII, and provide Ms. Decker and Ms. Graham with the relief to which they are entitled."

The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is committed to the vigorous enforcement of Title VII. Visit http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp/index.html for more information about the Division’s enforcement of Title VII and other federal employment laws.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014