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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Justice Department Settles Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Against the Town of Griffith, Indiana

The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with the town of Griffith, Ind. that, if approved by the court, will resolve allegations that the Griffith Police Department discriminated against Sergeant Marlene Starcevich based on her sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, or religion and retaliation for engaging in protected activity.  

The department’s complaint was filed today along with a notice informing the court of the simultaneous filing of a consent decree to resolve the complaint. The complaint alleges that the Griffith Police Department violated Title VII when it failed to assign Starcevich to a shift commander position because of her sex.  Starcevich is a 22-year veteran of the Griffith Police Department and the only female officer in the police department’s history.   According to the complaint, while the Griffith Police Department routinely assigned its male sergeants to shift commander positions, when a shift commander position became available in July 2010, Griffith denied Starcevich the position because of her sex.   

According to the complaint, instead of assigning Starcevich to the open and available shift commander position, the Griffith Police Department promoted a male corporal to sergeant and assigned him as shift commander.  The police department did not make Starcevich a shift commander but, instead, placed Starcevich as second-in-command to another male sergeant.
Under the terms of the consent decree, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, the Griffith Police Department agreed to injunctive relief that prohibits Griffith from denying Starcevich assignments because of her sex, or otherwise unlawfully discriminating against her.  The Police Department has already assigned Starcevich to shift commander duties and must also pay her $5,000 in monetary relief.  In addition, the town of Griffith must revise its equal employment opportunity policies to protect its employees from discrimination, and conduct training of its personnel regarding these policies.

“Gender discrimination in employment of any kind will not be tolerated,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Principal Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division.  “This lawsuit should send a clear message that the department is committed to eliminating and remedying all forms of gender discrimination in the work place and that we will take necessary action to vigorously protect the rights of those in the public sector facing discrimination.”

Additional information about Title VII can be found on the Justice Department website, www.justice.gov/crt/emp , as well as on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website at www.eeoc.gov.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 10, 2015