Department of Justice sues Alabama sheriff over sexual harassment


MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — The Justice Department sued the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday over claims it ignored claims of female jailers who say they are being sexually harassed by male prisoners.

The sex discrimination federal lawsuit, filed in Mobile, said female jail workers are regularly subjected to lewd comments, threats of sexual violence and male prisoners who expose themselves.

A dozen female jailers filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the complaint said, but Sheriff Sam Cochran and others failed to take the complaints seriously or act to stop the problem.

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“Nobody deserves to be sexually harassed while on the job,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan said in a statement. “The behavior to which these female employees were subjected is appalling, and the county’s failure to take action to protect its employees from such conduct is inexcusable.”

The suit seeks both money and policies to stop the harassment. The sheriff’s office was reviewing the complaint and had no immediate comment, a spokesman said.

The Mobile County Metro Jail holds about 1,500 inmates a day for the county and the city of Mobile.

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