Birmingham settled sexually hostile work environment suit against library for $150,000
By Kent Faulk
May 3, 2012
Full and original article here: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2012/05/birmingham_settles_library_sex.html
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The City of Birmingham is paying $150,000 tosettle a lawsuit filed by a former librarian who claimed the downtown public library was a sexually hostile place in which to work, according to a confidential memo obtained by The Birmingham News.
The lawsuit claimed some patrons were openly viewing pornography on computers, groping her, and performing lewd acts in front of staff or other patrons, including children.
The $150,000 settlement was part of a $650,000 budget amendment to the city’s legal department approved Tuesday by the Birmingham City Council.
A settlement was reached the week before a trial was to begin April 23 in the civil lawsuit filed by Barbara Wilson against the city and library. Details of the settlement were not made public and attorneys for both sides declined to discuss it.
But in the April 26 memo marked confidential to council members, Thomas Bentley III, stated the legal department recommended settling the case for the $150,000. “The facts in this case disfavored the City in several regards which I would be happy to discuss in executive session. I do not feel detailing them here would be in the best interest of the City and the individuals involved,” he wrote.
Bentley also wrote that officials believe there was sufficient evidence to justify a reasonable jury finding for Wilson. The city could have been exposed to $300,000 in damages for emotional anguish, plus a separate jury award for lost pay and attorneys fees which would have been around $50,000, he wrote.
The city also faces another similar lawsuit involving the library. That lawsuit is set for trial in early 2013.