US Justice Department Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with Baltimore County, Maryland, Ensuring Relief and Compensation for Victims

US Justice Department Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with Baltimore County, Maryland, Ensuring Relief and Compensation for Victims

The Justice Department made an important announcement today, unveiling a settlement agreement with Baltimore County, Maryland.

This settlement stems from the department’s complaint, which alleged that Baltimore County, through the Baltimore County Fire Department (BCFD), violated Title VII by creating a hostile work environment for several female employees based on their sex.

Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion and also prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose discriminatory practices.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division emphasized the significance of this settlement, stating, “Women deserve protection from sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace, and this lawsuit and consent decree demonstrate the department’s commitment to that principle.”

She further highlighted that addressing sexual harassment within the firefighting industry is crucial, given the historic challenges women have faced, including exclusion, marginalization, and discrimination.

The Allegations and Failure to Address the Hostile Work Environment

According to the department’s complaint, several female employees endured a hostile work environment when a male coworker distributed nude and inappropriate photographs of female BCFD employees to others, solicited such photographs from coworkers, and posted them on a social media site.

The complaint also alleges that BCFD failed to take prompt and appropriate actions to address this ongoing hostile work environment.

Specifically, BCFD did not promptly and thoroughly investigate the harassment, nor did it adequately communicate with the victims as the harassment came to light, thereby perpetuating the hostile work environment experienced by female employees.

Terms of the Consent Decree and Compensation

Under the terms of the consent decree, pending court approval, BCFD will revamp its process for investigating sexual harassment complaints.

It will also provide periodic sexual harassment training to its employees and conduct a workplace climate survey to gather information for maintaining a harassment-free workplace.

Additionally, Baltimore County will pay $275,000 to compensate female employees who were harmed by the harassment.

Ensuring Respect and Dignity in the Workplace

U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland underscored the importance of fostering respect and dignity for all employees in every workplace.

He emphasized the government’s commitment to protecting civil rights and enforcing laws against sexual harassment.

Barron commended Baltimore County for agreeing to comprehensive measures aimed at ensuring the safety, respect, and value of their employees in the workplace.

The Origin and Importance of the Case

This case began with a charge of discrimination filed by a commissioner for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and was initially investigated by the EEOC’s Baltimore office.

The EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that BCFD violated Title VII after unsuccessful conciliation efforts, prompting the referral of the charge to the Justice Department.

Director Rosemarie Rhodes of the EEOC Baltimore Office emphasized the need to combat unchecked sexual harassment in the workplace, reminding victims that they are protected by the law and need not tolerate such behavior.

Reporting Sexual Harassment

The announcement encourages employees with complaints of sexual harassment to report them to their local EEOC office or their respective state or local fair employment practices agencies.

Contact information for each local EEOC office can be found at

Conclusion and Commitment to Title VII

Trial Attorneys Shan Shah and Sharion Scott of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Marquardt for the District of Maryland are handling this case.

The Justice Department reiterates its dedication to the full and fair enforcement of Title VII, making it a top priority for the Civil Rights Division.

For additional information about the Civil Rights Division and the jurisdiction of the Employment Litigation Section, please visit their websites at and

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