Does MBN have a good ole boy culture of crude sexual jokes, harassment of female employees, and a dreaded "Perkins Scale"? that rates women based on looks? The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics settled a sexual harassment suit last month for undisclosed terms. MBN Special Projects Officer Mary Katherine Sullivan sued MBN on September 4, 2015 for alleged acts of sexual harassment committed by MBN Deputy Director Mike Perkins.
Ms. Sullivan alleged in her complaint:
Throughout her employment, the Plaintiff has been subjected and/ or exposed to sexual comments, dirty jokes, and sexual propositions by her superior, Defendant Perkins, who at all relevant times supervised the Plaintiff in his capacity as either Lieutenant Colonel or Deputy Director at MBN. Although the Plaintiff requested that Perkins stop his offensive behavior, he persisted and his offensive behavior, in fact, escalated.
Until September 2014, Perkins was assigned as the Enforcement Commander for MBN and handled the day to day operations and assignment for all personnel within MBN. Despite his leadership position, Perkins's 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.
While conducting interviews for potential female employees and often in the presence of the Plaintiff, Perkins openly and boastfully ranks the candidates with a sexually motivated number system, in which the higher the "number" the more physically attractive the candidate is to him. This system is widely known at MBN as the "Perkins Scale".The complaint also charges Deputy Director Perkins retaliated against her husband who also works for MBN.
On September 3, 2014, Laurie Wallace McDaniel spoke with Perkins in reference to an upcoming budget meeting, whereby she implored Perkins to increase the Plaintiff's salary, as she was filling dual roles as an analyst and in case management. McDaniel stated to Perkins that MBN needed to increase the Plaintiff's pay for the required duties of her promotion. Perkins emphatically declined despite acknowledging that MBN did have enough money in the budget.
On September 4, 2014, the very day after Perkins declined Ms. McDaniel's request, Perkins directed at least two (2) sexually harassing comments to the Plaintiff while attending a meeting at the MBN Headquarters in Byram. While Perkins was leading the meeting related to policy and procedures of electronic intercept cases conducted by MBN, the group was discussing the legalities of picture texts. With the full attention of the room, Perkins stated, "So if Mary Katharine were taking naked pictures of herself ...I would get to see them".
Later, during the same September 4, 2014 meeting, Agent Adam Smith made a joke stating, "I can hear Ronnie now saying 'What's a tweet'?" Immediately, Perkins directed his second harassing comment to Mrs. Sullivan despite her imploring Perkins to resist, stating, "Yeah, I'll tell you what a twitter is...it's that space (and Perkins used a hand gesture to indicate a space between a female's anus and the vagina)"....
An "investigation" of the incidents at the September 4, 2014 meeting was initiated, and attorney Jackie Bost was forced to resign from MBN as a result of his text messages to the Plaintiff. Perkins was temporarily placed on administrative leave during the sham internal investigation. However, despite the admission in writing by MBN's own counsel as to the sexual harassment, Perkins was promoted to deputy director (2nd in command for the entire Bureau) merely days after the "investigation" was completed. More, Perkins' s promotion calls for him to supervise a very large percentage of female employees and no steps were taken to ensure Mrs. Sullivan would not be exposed to Perkins's harassment in the future, as he continues to be present during her visits to MBN headquarters much to her dismay.
As both the Lieutenant Commander and Deputy Director, Perkins carried vast power and influence with MBN and, because of his power and influence, MBN tolerated his misconduct. With Perkins at its center, the working environment at MBN was, and remains, highly sexually-charged. Although management was obviously aware of the sexual antics at MBN (given that Perkins is management), they turned a blind eye to this behavior, forcing female employees who were offended by the conduct to simply remain silent out of fear of retaliation....
The two sides skirmished in federal court with the usual filings such as motions to dismiss, responses, and more motions until it settled on June 21, 2016.