- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A federal lawsuit against the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics that alleged female employees have been subjected to a pattern of sexual harassment and a sexually hostile work environment has been settled.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain told The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/2ai6wvF) he didn’t know the full details of the process that led to the settlement.

“I don’t know how far up the food chain there was awareness of this, but I can say as an overview that sexual harassment isn’t condoned in any form or fashion at any of our agencies,” Strain said Monday.

MBN employee Mary Katherine Sullivan filed the federal lawsuit in September of 2015 against MBN and deputy director Mike Perkins.

MBN spokeswoman Delores Lewis said in a statement: “Because the lawsuit was dismissed and the settlement terms are confidential, we won’t speculate on any possible impact, nor will we have further comment.”

Sullivan’s attorney, G. Morgan Holder of Gulfport, said Monday he couldn’t discuss the settlement under the terms of the agreement. He said Sullivan is no longer employed with MBN, but it’s unrelated to the settlement. Perkins is still the department’s deputy director.

In late June, the case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate after the parties reached a settlement agreement.

Sullivan’s lawsuit accused MBN of sex discrimination, sex harassment and retaliation. Sullivan began working at MBN as an administrative assistant in 2015. She was moved to the intelligence division in 2007. In 2014, Sullivan said she was hired as a special projects officer, a position with the published annual salary range of $36,176.62 to $63,309.

Sullivan said despite an impeccable personnel record, and a dramatic increase in responsibility, she was refused a salary above the minimum salary range.

She said in the lawsuit that throughout her employment, she had been subjected and/or exposed to sexual comments, dirty jokes and sexual propositions by Perkins.

“Despite his leadership position, Perkins’ office at MBN headquarters is conspicuously adorned with a certificate he received from sexual harassment training with the word failed stamped in large print. The plaintiff and other female employees have seen this certificate on numerous occasions while conducting business at headquarters,” the lawsuit said.

Also, Sullivan’s lawsuit said Perkins, in her presence, would rank potential female employees he was interviewing for employment with a sexually motivated number system, with the higher the number the more physically attractive to him. She said it was widely known at MBN as the “Perkins Scale.”

Sullivan was seeking future wages commensurate with promotions, back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and other expenses.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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