In March 2021, the United States filed suit against the Mobile County Sheriff alleging that since at least 2011, female employees who work in the housing units at the Mobile County Metro Jail have been sexually harassed by male inmates. The United States alleged that the inmates’ behavior created a hostile work environment as that term is defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that the Sheriff did not take immediate and appropriate actions to respond to this behavior on the part of male inmates. The Plaintiff-COs made similar allegations in their complaint.
In the interest of resolving this matter and promoting the purposes of Title VII, the United States, the Plaintiff-COs, and the Sheriff voluntarily entered into a Settlement Agreement. On April 21, 2023, the parties filed the proposed Settlement Agreement with the Court. On August 25, 2023, the Court held a Fairness Hearing to determine if the terms of the Settlement Agreement are fair, reasonable, adequate, and not the result of fraud or collusion between the parties. At the Fairness Hearing, the Court heard and considered objections to the terms of the Settlement Agreement. On September 5, 2023, the Court issued an opinion and order approving the terms of the Settlement Agreement. On September 19, 2023, the Court entered the Agreement as final.
Under the Settlement Agreement, the Sheriff will pay compensatory damages to the Plaintiff-COs named in the lawsuit. The Sheriff will also establish a $1.41 million settlement fund to compensate other female employees for some of the pain and suffering and emotional distress they experienced as a result of the Sheriff’s failure to address the sexual harassment by male inmates.
Female employees who worked at the Metro Jail as a corrections officer or corporal at some point between January 1, 2011 and April 21, 2023 may be eligible for a monetary award if they:
- worked in the inmate detention area of the Metro Jail with male inmates;
- experienced sexual misconduct from the male inmates while working in the inmate detention area; and
- were harmed by the inmates’ sexual misconduct.
Additionally, as part of the Settlement Agreement, the Sheriff will take a number of actions to remedy the alleged discrimination at the Metro Jail. The court will oversee the implementation of these actions for a period of one and a half years after all changes at the Jail required by this Settlement Agreement have been made. These actions will include:
- developing policies to ensure that all inmates and employees are aware of the types of behavior that constitute sexual misconduct and the consequences for engaging in these behaviors;
- conducting training for all inmates and employees to inform them of new policies regarding sexual misconduct and ensure that everyone can utilize the systems to address sexual misconduct; and
- implementing remedial measures, such as a dedicated housing area and a dedicated sexual misconduct coordinator, that will assist in curtailing sexual misconduct towards Jail employees.