PENNSYLVANIA

The Department of Justice announced Monday that it has reached a settlement with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), a regional public transportation authority based in Philadelphia, according to

The federal lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania Transit Authority subjected the officers, who belonged to a special investigative unit, to racial and religious harassment and retaliated against them because they opposed the harassment.

According to the complaint, the officers’ supervisor repeatedly harassed them with racial slurs and derogatory comments about Black people and Muslims, threatened the officers, and physically assaulted them, officials stated.

The complaint further alleges that the Transit Authority Police Chief retaliated against the officers for opposing the harassment. The officers’ supervisor and the Police Chief are no longer employed by Pennsylvania Transit Authority.

The settlement resolves the department’s complaint alleging that three officers of the Pennsylvania Transit Authority Police Department were subjected to a hostile work environment by their supervisor, according to officials.

They also experienced retaliation when they opposed the harassment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion and prohibits retaliation against employees for opposing employment practices that are discriminatory under Title VII.

“All transit police officers deserve to go to work each day without fear of harassment and retaliation from their supervisors and colleagues,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Adding, “this settlement sends a clear message that the department stands ready to protect employees who are subject to racial harassment and a hostile work environment, particularly in law enforcement agencies dedicated to serving the public.”

Under the terms of the consent decree, if approved by the court, Pennsylvania Transit Authority will implement anti-discrimination and retaliation policies and provide training for its employees.

Police Transit Authority will also pay the officers a total of $496,000 in compensatory damages, according to officials.

The full and fair enforcement of Title VII is a top priority of the Justice Department’s 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 www.justice.gov/crt/employment-litigation-

By Raul

Raul Hernandez is a former journalist. He has worked as a newspaper reporter for more than 30 years at the El Paso Herald-Post, El Paso Times, Press Enterprise in Riverside, California and the Ventura County Star in California. He was a court reporter for more than 20 years.