The Justice Department announced it had reached a settlement agreement with DeKalb County, Georgia that would resolve its lawsuit alleging the county violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it retaliated against former administrative assistant Cemetra Brooks, first by extending her probationary period and then terminating her employment for the extended term, because she filed a sexual harassment complaint. Title VII is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, national origin, sex, and religion and prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose employment practices discriminatory under Title VII.
“Internship employees are particularly vulnerable to discrimination because they have fewer job protections than permanent employees and are often reluctant to file a lawsuit because it could easily cost them their jobs,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen. Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This settlement agreement underscores that Title VII protections also apply to probationary employees. The Civil Rights Division is prepared to vigorously enforce the law when employees who complain of sexual harassment face retaliation.
“Discrimination in the workplace is toxic,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan of the Northern District of Georgia. “A female employee who is discriminated against in her workplace should be able to freely exercise her rights under Title VII without fear of reprisal.”
According to the Justice Department complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, during her initial six-month probation period, Brooks filed a sexual harassment complaint with DeKalb County alleging that her supervisor, the deputy director of the county’s facilities management department, subjected her to unwelcome sexual advances, comments, and behavior. these claims were later investigated and substantiated by the county. The US lawsuit further alleges that just a month after Brooks’ complaint, the assistant manager’s supervisor, the manager, contacted human resources to request information about the county’s still-active investigation into Brooks’ complaint. Brooks who would help fire Brooks while she stayed. on probation. According to the lawsuit, on the advice of a senior county official, the principal instead extended Brooks’ probation for three months. However, near the end of his extended probation, the manager fired Brooks without giving him a reason.
Under the settlement agreement, subject to court entry and approval, the county will pay Brooks $190,000 for lost wages and compensatory damages. The agreement also requires the county to develop and submit anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies to the Department of Justice for approval and provide its facilities management department supervisors and managers with training on these policies and the types conduct in the workplace. that constitute unlawful employment practices under Title VII.
The Atlanta District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated and attempted to resolve Brooks’ discrimination charge before referring it to the Justice Department as a measure of execution. More information about the jurisdiction of the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.
Full and fair enforcement of Title VII is a top priority of the Department of Justice’s Employment Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and the jurisdiction of the Employment Litigation Section is available on its websites at www.justice.gov/crt/ and www.justice.gov/crt/employment -litigation-section.