Justice Department Sues Palm Beach, Florida, County School Board for Discriminating Against Pregnant Employee
The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit today alleging that the Palm Beach, Florida, County School Board discriminated against a female employee on the basis of her sex and retaliated against her when she complained about discrimination.
Anne Williams Dorsey was an Assistant Principal at Turning Points Academy, a public school in the Palm Beach County School District. According to the complaint, she was subjected to unlawful changes to her work hours and pay after she began a period of maternity leave, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
The department’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for Southern District of Florida, further alleges that the principal at Turning Points Academy subjected Dorsey to discrimination and retaliation by reducing her responsibilities as an Assistant Principal after she announced her intention to become a mother. Specifically, when Dorsey went on maternity leave, the principal reassigned her to a position with a lower salary and fewer assigned days, and then replaced her with a male employee whom she had previously trained. The complaint also alleges that the principal retaliated against Dorsey because she reported another female employee’s sexual harassment allegations against the male employee who eventually replaced her.
The complaint seeks a court order requiring the board to develop and implement policies that would prevent its employees from being subjected to discrimination and retaliation. The United States also seeks monetary relief for Dorsey to compensate her for the damages she sustained as a result of the alleged discrimination and retaliation.
“Federal law requires employers to maintain a workplace free of sex-based discrimination of any kind,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “No employee should be punished at work for the decision to start a family.”
“All employers must respect the civil rights of all of their employees, and sex-based discrimination of any kind has no place in the work environment,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida. “As this lawsuit shows, the Department of Justice will work vigorously to make sure that our community’s workplaces are free from such discrimination.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received a charge of sex discrimination filed by Dorsey. The EEOC’s Miami Field Office investigated the matter and found reasonable cause to believe the board discriminated against her. After unsuccessful conciliation efforts, the EEOC referred the matter to the Justice Department.
The continued enforcement of Title VII is a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available on the Civil Rights Division’s website at www.justice.gov/crt.