MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office would pay $2.02 million as part of a proposed settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over sexual harassment claims made by 14 female corrections officers. The MCSO said that settlement is not final.
The lawsuit, filed in 2021, says women who work or have worked as corrections officers at Mobile County Metro Jail were regularly sexually harassed by inmates.
“The case is in the hands of the Federal Court for review,” Mobile County Sheriff Paul Burch told WKRG News 5 in a statement. “We have not agreed to all the terms of this settlement and it has not been signed by our Office. We will comment on the settlement once it is finalized and signed.”
According to the DOJ, the corrections officers were “regularly subjected to severe and pervasive sexual harassment in the workplace by male inmates and that, despite the employees’ numerous reports to jail supervisors objecting to the harassment, the sheriff’s office did not take the complaints seriously and failed to take prompt and effective action to remedy this harassing conduct.”
If the sheriff’s office signs the agreement and a court approves, $1,410,000 would go into a settlement fund for the following:
- Maintain a dedicated housing area to house inmates found guilty of sexual misconduct
- Develop a comprehensive inmate sexual misconduct policy
- Train all jail employees on the new policy related to inmate sexual misconduct
- Appoint an Inmate Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Hearing Officer to track and monitor compliance with the new inmate sexual misconduct policy
An additional $610,000 will go to corrections officers and attorneys’ fees. Each of the corrections officers will receive $35,000 as compensatory damages.
The incidents that were the basis for the lawsuit occurred under former Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran. Burch was named in the lawsuit “in his official capacity.” Burch succeeded Cochran as Sheriff in 2022.