Summit County Council members will discuss the potential settlement of a sex discrimination lawsuit involving 21 female jail deputies tonight.
The workers claimed they were not afforded the same job opportunities in the Summit County Sheriff’s Department as their male counterparts.
The U.S. Justice Department eventually joined the suit against the county. The case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi.
A proposed consent decree or possible resolution was reached among the parties that would cost the county $400,000 to settle the claims. County council is the last to sign off on the agreement.
The resolution before council also involves a new staffing plan that would include a mandatory training program for the department designed to prevent sex discrimination.
The lawsuit, filed in December 2011, claimed female deputies would be discriminated against with a new policy that went into effect in January 2012. The policy stipulated that female deputies were only assigned jobs with women inmates and took away previous duties that included the booking and registering of all jail inmates.
The deputies claimed they lost wages because they were restricted to working with just women and were only eligible to work 32 of the 143 positions in the department.
The jail population is generally about 80 percent male. The policy was stopped in July.
Sheriff’s officials said the changes were made to ensure the agency had enough female deputies to cover three eight-hour shifts for strip searches and showers for women inmates to meet laws and regulations to protect the privacy of inmates.
Sheriff’s officials said an increasing number of female deputies using their seniority to work day shifts was creating staffing issues at night in the jail’s female wing.
Former Sheriff Drew Alexander was in office when the policy was started. Steve Barry took over as sheriff in January.
If council signs off on the deal, the settlement would still need the final approval of Lioi.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.