Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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  1. Who are the parties in this case?
  2. What claims did the United States and Plaintiff-COs bring against the Mobile County Sheriff?
  3. What is the current status of the case?
  4. When was a settlement reached?
  5. Did the court approve the parties’ settlement?
  6. What kind of monetary award might I be entitled to under the Settlement Agreement?
  7. Why are the Plaintiff-COs entitled to money that is separate from the settlement fund?
  8. What changes will be made at the Metro Jail to remedy the Sheriff’s alleged discrimination?
  9. What changes will the Metro Jail make to specifically address the inmates’ sexual misconduct?
  10. When will the Metro Jail make changes to the Jail’s policies and how inmates are disciplined for sexual misconduct?
  11. Can I hire my own attorney?
  12. If I submitted an Interest-in-Relief form, how will I know if I will receive an award?
  13. What is the process for considering my claim?
  14. Will my information on the Interest-in-Relief form be kept confidential?
  15. Who will receive money?
  16. How will the money be distributed?
  17. How much money will I receive in the settlement?
  18. Why is the start date for calculating monetary relief awards January 1, 2011?
  19. When will I receive my money?
  20. Can someone who is deceased receive money? If so, what is the process for doing so?
  21. What if I have additional questions?
  1. Who are the parties in this case?

    The Plaintiff in this case is the United States of America.  The Attorney General, on behalf of the United States, is authorized to bring suit to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), against public employers.  The United States’ case originated with charges of employment discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) by female corrections officers and corporals (“Plaintiff-COs”) at the Mobile County Metro Jail (“Metro Jail”).

    The Plaintiff-COs are 14 female COs and Corporals at the Metro Jail, most of whom filed charges of employment discrimination with the EEOC in 2015.  The Plaintiff-COs are not represented by the United States.  They are represented by their own attorney.  The Plaintiff-COs became parties in this case when they asked the court to intervene and the court granted their motion.

    The Defendant in this case is the Mobile County Sheriff, Paul Burch, who serves as a public employer.  The Sheriff is responsible for the operations of the Metro Jail and the employees that work at the facility.

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  2. What claims did the United States and Plaintiff-COs bring against the Mobile County Sheriff?

    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. 

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  3. What is the current status of the case?

    On September 19, 2023, the Court issued an opinion and order granting final approval of the Settlement Agreement, which settles the United States and Plaintiff-COs’ case against Mobile County Sheriff Paul Burch (“Defendant”).

    By March 16, 2024, the United States will send a letter to every potential claimant who submitted an Interest-in-Relief form to let them know the following: whether they were found eligible for a monetary award; if found ineligible, the reasons why they are ineligible; if found eligible, the amount of the monetary award that the United States proposes the person receive; and the process for filing an objection with the court, if the person disagrees with their determination.  Any claimant who would like to object to this preliminary determination of eligibility must submit an objection by April 15, 2024, or the objection may be waived.

    On June 4, 2024, at 2:00pm in Courtroom 4B, United States Courthouse, 155 Saint Joseph Street, Mobile, AL 36602, the court will hold a Fairness Hearing on Monetary Relief and resolve any objections filed with the court.  At or after this hearing, the court will rule on objections and approve the Monetary Relief List as final.  After final approval, the Claims Administrator will mail and email the following to each Claimant eligible for a monetary award: (1) a Notice of Monetary Award and (2) an Acceptance of Monetary Award and Release of Claims.  Both forms will have to be signed and returned before checks can be sent.

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  4. When was a settlement reached?

    The parties reached an agreement in principle to settle this case on March 10, 2023 after several mediation sessions with a private mediator.  During the mediation sessions, attorneys for the parties negotiated the terms of the settlement.

    On April 21, 2023, the parties signed the settlement agreement and asked the court to approve 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.

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  5. Did the court approve the parties’ settlement?

    Yes, the court gave final approval to the settlement agreement on September 19, 2023.

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  6. What kind of monetary award might I be entitled to under the Settlement Agreement?

    Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, female employees who worked at the Metro Jail between January 1, 2011 and April 21, 2023 may be eligible to receive a monetary award to compensate them for some of the pain and suffering and emotional distress they experienced as a result of Defendant’s failure to address the sexual harassment from male inmates.

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  7. Why are the Plaintiff-COs entitled to money that is separate from the settlement fund?

    The Plaintiff-COs are parties in this case and are represented by their own attorney.  As part of the Settlement Agreement, their attorney negotiated a monetary settlement separate from the settlement fund that the United States will administer to other female employees that worked at the Metro Jail.  While the Plaintiff-CO awards are for a set amount, we do not yet know the size of the awards to the other female employees, since it will depend on how many eligible employees submit Interest-in-Relief forms.

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  8. What changes will be made at the Metro Jail to remedy the Sheriff’s alleged discrimination?

    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.

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  9. What changes will the Metro Jail make to specifically address the inmates’ sexual misconduct?

    Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the Sheriff will implement several measures to help address inmates’ sexual misconduct, including:

    • Maintaining a Dedicated Housing Area where the Metro Jail will house gunners and those who inappropriately touch Metro Jail employees’ private body parts.  See Paragraph 58(a) of the Settlement Agreement for more information about the Dedicated Housing Area.
    • Assigning at least three employees to be Disciplinary Hearing Officers (“DHOs”) and providing all of the DHOs with special training on how to review disciplinary narratives, how to investigate employees’ report narratives, how to consistently sentence inmates for sexual misconduct, and how to provide employees with notice of disciplinary report outcomes.
    • Designating one of the DHOs as the Inmate Sexual Misconduct DHO.  This Inmate Sexual Misconduct DHO will be in charge of monitoring the Metro Jail’s response to inmate sexual misconduct.  See Paragraph 58(b) of the Settlement Agreement for more information about the Inmate Sexual Misconduct DHO.
    • Reviewing disciplinary reports on inmate sexual misconduct and referring inmates that repeatedly engage in extreme sexual misconduct for criminal charges. 

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  10. When will the Metro Jail make changes to the Jail’s policies and how inmates are disciplined for sexual misconduct?

    The terms of the Settlement Agreement will begin to go into effect in the fall of 2023.  From then, the Metro Jail will make changes over several months, including throughout 2024.

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  11. Can I hire my own attorney?

    Yes, you can hire an attorney, if you wish.  We cannot provide you with legal advice about your participation in the Settlement Fund.

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  12. If I submitted an Interest-in-Relief form, how will I know if I will receive an award?

    If you submitted an Interest-in-Relief form, by March 16, the United States will send a letter via mail and email (if we have an email address for you) with information about whether you were determined eligible for a monetary award, the amount of your proposed award if you will receive one, and information about submitting an objection if you disagree with our determination.  The Fairness Hearing will take place on June 4, and at the Fairness Hearing, the court will consider any objections and either approve or modify the proposed awards. Checks will not be sent out until several months after the court makes a decision on the proposed awards.

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  13. What is the process for considering my claim?

    To be considered for a monetary award in this settlement, you had to complete and submit an Interest-in-Relief Form.  Submitting the Interest-in-Relief Form will not guarantee that you will receive a monetary award.  But, if you did not complete and submit the Interest-in-Relief Form, you will not receive a monetary award.

    If you submitted an Interest-in-Relief Form, the United States made an initial decision on your eligibility for a monetary award based on the Sheriff’s records of your employment at the Metro Jail and your responses on the Interest-in-Relief Form you submit.  The United States will send a letter by March 16, 2024 with the initial decision on your eligibility and the amount of your monetary award (if any), and you will have an opportunity to object to that decision.

    At or after the June 4, 2024 Fairness Hearing on Monetary Relief, the judge will consider all objections received, and the court will make a final decision about whether you are eligible to receive a monetary award, and if so, the amount of money you are entitled to receive.  After the Fairness Hearing on Monetary Relief, the court will issue an order regarding the eligibility of all claimants who submitted Interest-in-Relief Forms to share in the settlement and the amount of each eligible claimant’s share.

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  14. Will my information on the Interest-in-Relief form be kept confidential?

    We will not publicly file your Interest-in-Relief form with your name on it.  We will use anonymous claimant ID numbers on the list of Potential Claimants that we file with the Court.

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  15. Who will receive money?

    The court will make the final decision about who will receive money after the Fairness Hearing on Monetary Relief, which will be held on June 4, 2024.  The court will make this decision after the United States gives the court a list of people that it believes meet the criteria for a monetary award and the court hears all objections that it receives.

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  16. How will the money be distributed?

    The $2,020,000 will be split among the Plaintiff-COs and the women found by the court to be eligible for monetary awards.  The Plaintiff-COs will receive set amounts of money that their attorney negotiated, and the rest of the money will be divided among eligible claimants based on the length of time they worked at the Metro Jail, the amount of time they worked in the inmate detention area of the Jail with male inmates, the type and frequency of sexual misconduct they experienced from the male inmates while working in the inmate detention area, and the harm they experienced from the inmates’ sexual misconduct.  The court’s order will identify how much money each eligible claimant is entitled to receive.

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  17. How much money will I receive in the settlement?

    The court will decide how much money each eligible claimant is entitled to receive.  The court will make this decision after the United States gives the court a list of people that it believes meet the criteria for a monetary award and the court hears all objections that it receives.  The United States will recommend to the court how the money should be divided among eligible claimants based on the length of time they worked at the Metro Jail, the amount of time they worked in the inmate detention area of the Jail with male inmates, the type and frequency of sexual misconduct they experienced from the male inmates while working in the inmate detention area, and the harm they experienced from the inmates’ sexual misconduct.  

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  18. Why is the start date for calculating monetary relief awards January 1, 2011?

    The United States’ Amended Complaint in this case alleged discrimination occurring at the Metro Jail beginning in 2011.  As a result, the settlement provides relief for women who worked at the Metro Jail at any time between January 1, 2011 and April 21, 2023, the date on which the parties asked the court to provisionally approve the terms of the settlement agreement.

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  19. When will I receive my money?

    The timeframe of when eligible claimants will receive their monetary award will depend on how the claims process unfolds.  Given the multiple steps in the claims process, we are unable to give a specific time for when those found eligible will receive their monetary award.  The specific date will depend on how quickly the court rules after the June 4, 2024 Fairness Hearing on Monetary Relief, but it is estimated that checks will be sent out in the fall of 2024.

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  20. Can someone who is deceased receive money? If so, what is the process for doing so?

    Individuals who are entitled to act on behalf of a woman who meets the eligibility criteria but is now deceased should contact DOJ.

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  21. What if I have additional questions?

    If you have additional questions, you may contact the Department of Justice by emailing [email protected] or by calling 844-495-2632 and leaving a detailed message with your full name, telephone number(s), and a time when you can be reached.

     

    Please do not contact the court for information about this case.  Court personnel will not be able to answer any questions.

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