KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Eleven women subjected to unwanted kissing and groping by former solid waste supervisor Mike Harvel were awarded $1.1 million under a settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Cumberland County.

The agreement resolves allegations that the county discriminated against them because they are women, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Justice Department’s complaint, filed March 8, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, alleged, among other things, that Cumberland County failed to take adequate precautions to prevent the former director of the county’s Solid Waste Department from sexually harassing the women.

“Today’s resolution, through settlement, will bring some measure of closure and vindication to the vulnerable women who were victimized by the egregious and abusive behavior in this case,” said Pamela S. Karlan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “Sexual harassment must not be tolerated in the workplace, and we remain committed to eliminating it root and branch through our vigorous enforcement of Title VII.”

According to the complaint, Harvel regularly subjected the women, who all worked for him, to unwanted sexual contact, including kissing and groping; unwelcome sexual advances, including propositioning the women for sexual favors; and offensive sexual remarks about their bodies and sex acts.

Harvel has been indicted on two counts of sexual battery and one count each of assault and official misconduct, he is awaiting trial in state court. 

Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, and religion. The terms of the settlement must still be approved by the court in the form of a consent decree. Cumberland County will also revise its policies, procedures, and training to better prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.