Justice Department Settles Title VII Lawsuit Alleging Intentional Discrimination Based on Race


WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement agreement resolving the United States’ claims that Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, and the Tallahatchie County sheriff in his official capacity (collectively, Tallahatchie County), intentionally discriminated against Black deputy sheriffs based on their race, by paying them less than white deputy sheriffs, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

“Under Title VII, it is illegal to pay employees less because of their race,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Black deputy sheriffs in Tallahatchie County work hard to protect members of their community and they deserve equal treatment in every aspect of their employment, especially their paychecks. This settlement will ensure pay policies that promote equal employment opportunities for these public safety professionals.”

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Tallahatchie County will pay four Black deputy sheriffs back-pay compensation for the unequal pay rates that they have endured. Tallahatchie County will also ensure that pay rates are reviewed and adjusted, as necessary, to ensure no future discrimination. Tallahatchie County will implement a new pay policy to be reviewed by the Department of Justice and will put in place procedures to ensure transparency in pay for its entire workforce of deputy sheriffs.

This lawsuit stemmed from an investigation conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) during which the Commission found that there was reasonable cause to believe that violations of Title VII occurred against a class of Black deputy sheriffs for which disparities in pay were racially motivated. After unsuccessful conciliation efforts by the EEOC, the EEOC referred the charges to the Justice Department. 

The full and fair enforcement of Title VII is a top priority of the Employment Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and the jurisdiction of the Employment Litigation Section is available on its websites at www.justice.gov/crt/ and https://www.justice.gov/crt/employment-litigation-section.

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