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Justice Department intervenes in Maryland sex discrimination claim

A lawsuit accusing a Maryland sheriff's office of sex discrimination will receive support from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) after the agency issued a statement declaring that it had moved to intervene in the private claim. In the release, the DOJ says it is dedicated to "vigorously enforcing to the right of employees to be free from sex discrimination in the work place" in conjunction with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The plaintiff initially filed her claim with the EEOC, who referred it to the Justice Department.

The sex discrimination lawsuit, which also names Queen Anne County and the state of Maryland as defendants, contends that the sheriff's office violated the plaintiff's civil rights by placing her into a work environment where she was subjected to sexually hostile behavior from male employees. She claims that the men made sexual advances and explicit comments to her and other female workers. The plaintiff asserts that she was the victim of insulting and derogatory statements as well as unwanted and inappropriate sexual touching. This eventually led the woman to complain to her supervisors. According to the lawsuit, the woman's employment was terminated at that time. The plaintiff and DOJ argue that this act constitutes deliberate retaliation.

According to the DOJ release, the plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages compensating her for both future and past lost wages. Additionally, the DOJ says it will push for the adoption of better departmental policies and training procedures regarding sexual harassment and how to address complaints of misbehavior in the sheriff's office.

According to the Justice Department, it opted to intervene in the lawsuit after determining that it "represents a matter of general public importance." It says the intervention will help protect the Maryland plaintiff and other citizens across the country do their jobs without having to suffer from persistent harassment.

Reporters say a representative with the sheriff's office had failed to respond to requests for comment on the case at last report.

Source: WBAL, "Feds Alleging Sex Bias in Q.A. County Sheriff's Office," Feb. 11, 2013

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