EEOC rules in favor of 5 more complaints
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled in favor of five more former or current employees, altogether upholding eight claims of civil rights violations by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept.
All of the cases have been forwarded to the EEOC’s regional attorney for review and referral to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, said Marcia Hall-Craig, area director for the EEOC, in recent notices to the complaining parties. The justice department has the authority to bring suit against a government entity when a violation has been found by the EEOC and ‘efforts to conciliate have been unsuccessful,’ said Hall-Craig.
The most recent rulings were in favor of claims filed by former corrections employees Donna Gribble, James Ridenour, Barbara Melling, Matthew Simmons, and current employee Mary Ward. They and the others who have filed EEOC complaints, including corrections officer Danielle Smith, former officer Lina J. Missamore and former Capt. Ray Byrne, have a right to sue if the justice department doesn’t bring a civil action.
Harrison County attorney Christopher Byrd said the commissioners opted against discussion and possible settlement of the pending cases because, ‘If you settle with one, you have to settle with all, and the county feels pretty strongly that in several instances, there’s no valid claim.
‘Some have more merit than others,’ Byrd said.
In all eight claims, Byrd said, the department of justice will decide whether it will file a civil suit or leave that to the claimants.
The complaints stem from discriminatory treatment, harassment and/or retaliation for reporting or participating in an investigation of civil rights violations, either from Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick or corrections officer Andrea Barham of Brandenburg, Deatrick’s alleged favorite.
Deatrick has denied favoritism and earlier claimed that corrections employees had instead harassed Barham.