Discrimination lawsuits against Port Allen settled, terms not disclosed

Agreement terms not disclosed

Two federal court lawsuits alleging racial discrimination and sexual harassment on the part of Port Allen officials have been settled in Baton Rouge, but no details of those settlements are contained in court records.

A. Edward Hardin Jr., an attorney for the city, said Wednesday that municipal officials instructed him to refer all questions about the litigation to them.

Chief Administrative Officer Adrian Genre asked for a written request for the documents.

No documents were received in response to that request Wednesday.

Robert L. Campbell and Dustin G. Flint — attorneys for Philip Mason, former assistant chief financial officer, and Cenceria Dalcourt, former assistant chief administrative officer — also did not reply to requests for release of the settlement agreements.

Mason filed his suit in September 2012 and alleged sexual harassment on the part of former Mayor Derek Lewis.

Lewis is serving a 40-month prison term after pleading guilty to a charge of racketeering that resulted from an FBI sting operation that targeted municipal officials in the Baton Rouge area.

Those officials were offered bribes in return for pledges of help in securing municipal contracts to what proved to be a fictional garbage-can cleaning service known as Cifer 5000.

Mason alleged that Lewis frequently sexually harassed female city employees. In addition, Mason alleged, Lewis targeted him in embarrassing remarks about his sex life. And Mason said he was denied an appointment as chief financial officer and eventually fired because he is black, and Lewis’ immediate successor, Roger Bergeron, is white.

Port Allen officials did not file answers to the two suits before they were settled and dismissed.

Dalcourt alleged in her suit, filed in January, that Lewis frequently sexually harassed her.

She added when she rejected Lewis’ sexual advances, he responded by “harassing her … and threatening her job.”

When Bergeron succeeded Lewis, Dalcourt alleged, he supported hiring Genre, who is white, instead of her as chief administrative officer.

Dalcourt said the fact that she is black played a role in that decision. She noted Genre once served time in prison for lying under oath about racially discriminatory hiring practices at the Port Allen Police Department when he was chief of the department.

Like Mason, Dalcourt was fired from her city job.

Both sides in the two cases told federal judges they had reached a settlement agreement and asked for permanent dismissal of the two suits.

Court records show U.S. District Judge James J. Brady signed a final dismissal of Dalcourt’s suit Sept. 27.

U.S. District Judge Shelly D. Dick signed final dismissal of Mason’s suit on Sept. 30.