EEOC: Sheriff Beam was aware of sexually hostile work environment, failed to take corrective action

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has completed its investigation into complaints filed by five female employees of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office and released its findings regarding allegations against David Gibson, former captain of the Uniform Patrol Division, and Sheriff Wendell Beam, both of whom are being sued in their personal and professional capacities.

In letters of determination regarding each complainant, Director of the EEOC Atlanta District Office Bernice Williams-Kimbrough stated the Commission’s investigation disclosed sufficient evidence to support allegations of wrongdoing.

The letters pertaining to Melanie Bowen and Misty Piper state, “Charging party alleges that she was subjected to sexual harassment, a hostile work environment and retaliated against after she refused the sexual advances of her supervisor.”

The letters pertaining to Karen Law, Jessica Kelley and Kimberly Barnett state, “Charging party alleges that she was subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.”

The EEOC acknowledges that the respondent, Beam, denies his female employees’ allegations, the federal Commission stated its investigation “disclosed sufficient evidence to support” the five charging parties’ allegations.

Furthermore, Williams-Kimbrough stated, “The evidence shows that Respondent was aware of the sexually hostile work environment and failed to take corrective action.”

She went on to say, “Based on the foregoing, there is reasonable cause to believe the Charging Party has been subjected to discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.”

As part of its investigation, the EEOC requested Mary Katz, the attorney representing the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Wendell Beam and Spalding County, provide information. Among the records used in reaching the EEOC determination were the Internal Affairs report of investigation, the report of the administrative Internal Affairs investigation conducted by Capt. Ronald Brainard, of the Houston County Sheriff’s Office and the report of the criminal investigation conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The EEOC also requested a list of all employees during the relevant period – which was identified as Jan. 1, 2012 through Nov. 10, 2015. Among the information required to be provided was the name of all employees, contact information (last known address and phone number), date of hire, position title, current status (whether still employed, voluntary resignation, retirement, etc.) and date of discharge.

The complete personnel records to include any retirement and disciplinary documents of both Capt. David Gibson and Sheriff Wendell Beam were also required. Finally, the EEOC required the Sheriff’s Office to provide copies of all documented complaints of sexual harassment received by any and all departments within the organization from any employee from the Sheriff’s Office during the relevant period of Jan. 1, 2012 through Nov. 10, 2015.

Each of the charging parties – Melanie Bowen, Misty Piper, Karen Law, Jessica Kelley and Kimberly Barnett – have also filed federal lawsuits based on the allegations made in their Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints. Each of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office employees is seeking approximately $2 million in damages.

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Comments

  1. Andy pryor says:

    Taxpayers of Spalding co. Get ready to fork over 8 million of your dollars if not more because of this fiasco.

  2. RICHARD FISHER says:

    SO WHY WOULD WE WANT A SHERIFF TO BE IN CHARGE THAT WILL NOT STAND UP FOR HIS EMPLOYEES MUCH LESS THE GENERAL PUBLIC. WE NEED TO WRITE HIS NAME OFF AS BEING A CANDIDATE AGAIN. WE DO NOT NEED ANY MORE CORRUPTION. WHY SHOULD GIBSON BE ABLE TO RETIRE AND RECEIVE HIS BENEFITS IF HE IS THIS WAY HE SHOULD BE IN PRISON LIKE SOME OF THE ONES HE HAS HAD IN JAIL. HE IS NO BETTER THAN THEY ARE. SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE IS A NO NO WENDELL

  3. Ruth G. Allen says:

    I hope these ladies receive every dime that they are asking for. There are probably plenty of other females who suffered in silence for fear of their jobs or either quit because they feared they would not be believed. Some might have even been fired.

    • Cynthia says:

      RUTH: That’s a lot of supposition. We don’t know that there are any more; no one else has come forward. No one has said they “fear” for their jobs you’re just making that up. If anyone had been “fired” Sheila Matthews would have reported it. Look I’m not saying that what happened (if anything) was okay. But it is what it is; more importantly (pay attention here) it isn’t what it isn’t. So don’t make false accusations.

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