Tupelo Police Department was sued again on January 16th by a former employee over sexual harassment and a culture of illicit sexual relationships within the department. The lawsuit was filed by Lara Mansell in US District Court in Aberdeen.
Mansell Alleges Being Sexually Propositioned Repeatedly
The lawsuit claims that several superiors propositioned her and repeatedly harassed her sexually. They even pressured her into entering an adulterous relationship with a married officer. According to Mansell she was assaulted by the officer’s wife and intimidated into keeping silent.
Mansell alleged her supervisor Lt. Brian Brown made unwanted sexual advances shortly after she was hired at the North Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Center as an administrative assistant in April 2016. She claims he forcibly groped and kissed her at one time and said that he always got his way with women.
Mansell Was Coerced into Offering Sexual Favors
The lawsuit states that Mansell believed her employment was in jeopardy and had to give in to the sexual advances from her boss. The suit claimed the pair engaged in sexual acts several times at TPD property while on duty.
According to Mansell, Brian Brown’s wife, Chamila Brown showed up at her residence one night in 2016 and banged on her windows and doors with a police baton.
Chamila Brown made Mansell open the door and forced her way inside where she proceeded to severely assault Mansell. The altercation left Mansell badly bruised and battered according to the lawsuit.
Mansell was intimidated into silence after the incident by the now-retired Capt. Tim Clouse. Brian Brown did not let up after the assault as well and made demands for sexual favors.
She has filed the lawsuit asking for unspecified damages including punitive damages, back pay, compensatory damages, as well as sexual harassment attorney fees.
Sexual Harassment Laws in Mississippi
There are no laws that prohibit sexual harassment at workplace in Mississippi. The only route available to victims is to show that the harassment took the form of unwanted and severe physical contact. This can help invoke Mississippi common law on assault and battery.
However, most sexual harassment lawyers and employment attorneys prefer using the federal protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law prohibits all employers from discriminating among their employees on the basis of religion, gender, national origin, race, and color. However, the federal law can only be invoked if the employer has 15 or more employees.
This makes it important to consult with an experienced employment lawyer to understand victim rights and the right way to navigate a lawsuit.