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United States v. City of Caribou

United States District Court, D. Maine

May 12, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CARIBOU, Defendant. WHITNEY NICHOLS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CARIBOU, and ROY E. WOODS, Defendants.

AGREED AND CONSENTED TO, VANITA GUPTA Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division For Plaintiff United States of America,

DELORA L. KENNEBREW Chief KAREN D. WOODARD Deputy Chief

ALLAN K. TOWNSEND Senior Trial Attorney John J. Wall, III U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Washington, D.C. Attorneys for Defendant City of Caribou MONAGHAN LEAHY, LLP Portland, ME

John P. Gause, Esq., Attorney for Plaintiff Whitney Nichols, Eastern Maine Law, LLC, For Plaintiff Whitney Nichols.

CONSENT DECREE

JOHN A. WOODCOCK, Jr., District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

In this consolidated action, the United States has asserted a claim against the City of Caribou ("Caribou") to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., as amended ("Title VII"), following receipt by the United States from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") of a charge of discrimination filed by Whitney Nichols against Caribou. In its complaint, the United States alleged that Caribou subjected Ms. Nichols to discrimination on the basis of her sex, in violation of Section 703(a) of Title VII by subjecting her to severe sexual harassment that adversely affected the terms, conditions, and privileges of her employment. This Court has jurisdiction over the United States' claim under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f) and 28 U.S.C. § 1345.

Also as part of this consolidated action, Ms. Nichols has asserted sexual harassment claims against Caribou and Roy E. Woods under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983") and the Maine Human Rights Act, 5 M.R.S. §§ 4551, et seq. ("MHRA"). Similar to the United States' complaint, Ms. Nichols's complaint alleges, among other things, that Mr. Woods subjected Ms. Nichols to severe sexual harassment and that Mr. Woods and Caribou are liable for that sexual harassment under the MHRA and § 1983.

Caribou denies it has discriminated against Ms. Nichols in violation of Title VII, MHRA, and § 1983. Nevertheless, the United States, Ms. Nichols, and Caribou (the "parties"), desiring that this action be settled by an appropriate Consent Decree ("Decree"), and to avoid the burden and risks of protracted litigation, agree to the jurisdiction of this Court over the parties and the subject matter of this action. This Decree, being entered into with the consent of the United States, Ms. Nichols, and Caribou, shall in no way constitute an adjudication or finding on the merits of this consolidated case, nor be construed as an admission by Caribou or a finding of wrongdoing or violation of any applicable federal law or regulation. Furthermore, this Decree does not address or have any effect on Ms. Nichols's claims against Mr. Woods, which she and Mr. Woods have resolved separately.

In resolution of this action, the United States, Ms. Nichols, and Caribou hereby AGREE to, and the Court expressly APPROVES, ENTERS and ORDERS, the following:

II. EQUITABLE RELIEF

1. Caribou, by and through its officials, agents, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with Caribou in the performance of employment or personnel functions, shall not engage in any act or practice that discriminates against any employee or applicant on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII.

2. Caribou shall not retaliate against or in any way adversely affect the terms and conditions of employment of any person, including Ms. Nichols, because that person has opposed any practice he or she believes in good faith violates Title VII; filed a charge with the EEOC or any other state or local agency charged with enforcement of anti-discrimination laws pertaining to employment; or testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under Title VII, this case, or this Decree.

3. Within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of entry of this Decree, Caribou shall designate an employee as its Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") Officer. The EEO Officer shall ensure that Caribou complies with the provisions of this Decree requiring it to revise its sexual harassment policies and to conduct sexual harassment training. The EEO Officer shall be an employee of Caribou who reports directly to Caribou's City Manager. Caribou shall notify all of its employees, in writing, that, in addition to other people who are authorized to receive sexual harassment complaints, they may submit complaints of sexual harassment, either orally or in writing, directly to the EEO Officer. Once the EEO Officer receives notice of a sexual harassment complaint or has any information indicating that an employee has been subjected to sexually harassing conduct, ...


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