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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Justice Department Settles Lawsuit with Niagara County, New York, Alleging Discrimination Against Pregnant Corrections Officer

The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with Niagara County, New York, resolving allegations that the county discriminated against Corrections Officer Carisa Boddecker because of her sex and pregnancy. 

The consent decree, entered today by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, resolves the United States’ complaint filed on May 13, 2013, that the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) discriminated against Boddecker when it revoked her restricted duty assignment and forced her to take an extended leave of absence during her pregnancy, although she was able to work.  The complaint alleged that NCSO violated Title VII by refusing to let Boddecker do the same sort of work while pregnant that it allowed for other non-pregnant employees with temporary medical conditions.  Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, including pregnancy, as well as race, color, national origin and religion.

“It takes the strength and determination of women like Carisa Boddecker to stand up and speak out against sex-based discrimination,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “The Department of Justice remains firmly committed to ensuring that public employers do not discriminate against employees because of their pregnancies.”

Under the terms of the consent decree, NCSO must review its existing anti-discrimination policies and procedures and adopt and implement new policies to protect its employees from discrimination on the basis of sex, including pregnancy.  The consent decree requires NCSO to conduct training of its employees to ensure that any future complaints of discrimination are handled properly.  NCSO also has agreed to offer Boddecker $94,000 in back pay, compensatory damages and attorney’s fees, as well as restore the seniority and pension benefits that she lost as a result of her forced leave of absence.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Elizabeth Banaszak and Kathleen Lawrence of the Civil Rights Division. 

The continued enforcement of Title VII remains a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  More information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available on the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section (website).

Niagara County Consent Decree

Niagara County Order Approving Stipulated Consent Decree with Modification

Civil Rights
Labor & Employment
Press Release Number: 
Updated February 8, 2016