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Employment Discrimination Blog

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Beleaguered Murray County Judge Faces Hostile Work Environment and Other Charges

On September 10, the clerk and employees of the Magistrate Court of Murray County filed charges against the former Chief Magistrate Judge.  The charges, filed with the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) allege that the employees were forced to work in a hostile work environment.  The employees separately claim that they suffered under improper employment practices and suppression of their free speech rights.

The former Chief Magistrate Judge, Bryant Cochran, had only recently resigned his post during an inquiry into whether he pre-signed arrest warrants and asked a woman for sexual favors in return for a positive outcome on her case.

Few details are available about the employees’ allegations.  What is known, however, is that the three women who signed the EEOC charges comprise the third, fourth and fifth woman to step forward recently to complain about the former judge’s inappropriate behavior.  By filing the EEOC claim, the women have secured protected status for any other county employees who have information to support the claims of a hostile work environment.

"Any employee who has witnessed or knows of these matters personally should come forward and be protected under the law," said McCracken Poston, a Ringgold, Georgia, attorney hired to represent the women.

 “The employees of the clerk’s office …  have suffered from the improper and abhorrent actions of former Judge Cochran,” added Stuart James, a Chattanooga, Tennessee, attorney also representing the female complainants.

An employer may be guilty of allowing a hostile work environment if the employees can show evidence that they were exposed to a pattern of unwanted sexual behavior, comments, or visual displays – such that they feared going to work.  The employees must also present evidence that no management action was taken in response to their internal complaints.

 


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