Millbrook agrees to settle 2011 sexual harassment suit - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Millbrook agrees to settle 2011 sexual harassment suit

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MILLBROOK, AL (WSFA) -

A settlement in federal court is forcing the city of Millbrook to change the way it handles sexual harassment complaints. The changes come as a result of a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by a former female police officer in 2011.

When asked why the city decided to settle the matter, Millbrook Mayor Al Kelly wouldn't admit to any wrongdoing, but says he felt it was in the city's interest to do so. Kelly says settling would save the city tens of thousands of dollars.

With the settlement, the city of Millbrook will have to answer to the U.S. Department of Justice for a two year period when it comes to sexual harassment complaints.

The city is not only responsible for paying damages to former officer Kristen Spraggins, who filed the suit, but must also offer live training to all employees about sexual harassment, post documents about sexual harassment and form committees to hear complaints. The city will file statements with the DOJ each quarter concerning any such matters.

Spraggins was first employed by the department in 2008, and at the time was its only female officer. Her complaint stated that she received excellent performance evaluations from superiors until she rejected unwanted sexual advances by a co-worker. Her complaint states that she was fired as retaliation for pursuing internal complaints regarding the harassment.

Mayor Kelly says he's concerned that implementing the policies required by the DOJ will be a major financial investment that will take away money the city could spend on other things. 

"Police vehicles, parks and recreation," Mayor Kelly said listing off things that the money could go toward. "We've got utility improvements that need to be made, we've got any number of things that all these folks riding up and down this road right now would like to have. We're going to have to go spend some money somewhere else because of this.

The mayor confirmed that eight other officers listed in the lawsuit are still gainfully employed by the police department. No one will be reprimanded or terminated.

Spraggins' attorney said the outcome was acceptable.

Due to the confidentiality agreement, no one involved in the settlement can discuss its terms. There's no way to know how much the settlement could have cost the city of Millbrook. The city has municipal insurance, but it's unclear how much each party will pay.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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