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Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Justice Department Sues Harrison County, Ind., Sheriff for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit against Harrison County Sheriff George Michael Deatrick, in his official capacity, alleging that he discriminated against current employee Deana Decker and former employee Melissa Graham, in the form of sexual harassment that resulted in a hostile work environment, and retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Harrison County Board of Commissioners and the Harrison County Council, which fund the Sheriff’s Department, also are named as defendants in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana.

Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion. It also prohibits retaliation against an employee who opposes an unlawful employment practice, or because the employee has made a charge or participated in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under the Civil Rights Act.

"It is important for employers to understand that Title VII protects women from sexual harassment in the workplace," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King for the Civil Rights Division.  "The Department of Justice will vigorously pursue cases when employers engage in, or fail or refuse to take appropriate action to stop sexual harassment in the workplace."

The complaint alleges that Sheriff Deatrick subjected Decker and Graham to sexual harassment by, among other things, touching them in a sexual and offensive manner and making sexually-charged comments to them. After Decker and Graham filed discrimination charges against Deatrick with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the complaint alleges that Deatrick retaliated against them by brandishing a gun and staring at them in order to intimidate and frighten them.

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of Title VII. More information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available on the Civil Rights Division’s Web site at: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp/index.html.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014