Atlanta eyes $75,000 settlement for harassment lawsuit against police

Atlanta City Hall entrance

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Atlanta City Hall entrance

A federal sexual harassment lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and a former police supervisor could be coming to an end.

Atlanta City Council is considering the approval of a settlement to dismiss a 40-page complaint filed in February by former city employee Michelle Anderson. She alleged her APD supervisor, Wellington Clarke, inappropriately touched her and made unwelcomed suggestive comments despite her objections for more than two years.

The lawmakers will consider the authorization of a $75,000 payment to Anderson and her attorney at the council’s full meeting on Tuesday. Anderson would receive $45,000 while the remaining funds are paid to the Molden & Associates law firm, according to the council’s resolution.

ExploreAtlanta Police inspector faces harassment lawsuit from ex-city employee

If approved, the funds will come from the city’s general fund and litigation expenses, among other accounts, according to the resolution.

The measure states the city attorney thinks the city would spend less money by settling with Anderson as opposed to fighting her claims in a jury trial. It also stated Anderson wants to accept the settlement amount.

Anderson’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

In the lawsuit, Clarke is described as an Atlanta Police Department senior inspector responsible for employee scheduling, assignments, operations, hiring, and firing. Anderson alleged she reported Clarke to supervisors and learned the APD previously relocated him to the Crime Prevention Unit after he harassed other women in APD.

ExploreAtlanta Office of Inspector General has investigated 32 complaints in first 18 months

An APD spokesman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in February that Clarke was reassigned again in the department.

Anderson alleged that she told Clarke to stop making advances on her immediately from the moment he approached her after she was hired as an APD inspector in 2019. Clarke also allegedly commented on other women as they traveled together for work, the lawsuit says.

Clarke allegedly touched Anderson’s shoulder sexually and harassed her over the phone, according to the lawsuit. The APD allegedly told her it would take years to investigate the complaint she filed in Atlanta’s Human Resources Department, so she filed discrimination charges with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The lawsuit says Atlanta launched an investigation into Anderson’s claims in April 2021, but she ultimately resigned in June 2021 amid weeks of Clarke’s alleged harassment and ridicule from other officers.