Port Allen pays $330,000 to settle two lawsuits

Port Allen paid two former city employees $330,000 to end civil suits over alleged sexual harassment and race discrimination, according to municipal documents released Thursday.

Former Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Cenceria Dalcourt and her attorneys — Robert L. Campbell and Dustin G. Flint — received $167,500 of that money, according to records released by City Clerk Audrey McCain.

Another $162,500 went to former Assistant Chief Financial Officer Philip Mason and the same two attorneys.

On Wednesday night, Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter told City Council members her proposed $9.7 million budget includes $400,000 to cover several recent settlements of lawsuits.

McCain noted Thursday that one of the city’s insurers covered a combined total of $170,000 of the payments to Dalcourt and Mason.

In the settlement agreements, city officials do not admit any of the allegations contained in the suits by Dalcourt and Mason.

Both former city employees were fired after complaining that former Mayor Derek Lewis sexually harassed female city employees.

Dalcourt said in her suit that Lewis repeatedly propositioned her for sex “and created a hostile work environment for her.”

When Dalcourt rejected Lewis’ sexual advances, she alleged, he responded by “harassing her … and threatening her job.”

Lewis was indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2010 on racketeering and fraud charges generated by an undercover FBI investigation of corruption in several Baton Rouge-area cities.

That investigation was Operation Blighted Officials, which used a fictitious firm, Cifer 5000, to offer bribes to municipal officials in return for help in securing city contracts for garbage-can-cleaning services.

Lewis pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering and was sentenced in June 2012 to a 40-month prison term.

In his suit, Mason alleged that Lewis sexually harassed female city employees and frequently made embarrassing and offensive remarks about Mason’s genitalia in front of some of those employees.

After Lewis’ guilty plea and resignation, both Mason and Dalcourt were denied promotions because they are black, the two former employees alleged in their suits.

Both Mason and Dalcourt were fired after they filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, they said in their suits.

At their request and that of the city, both those suits were dismissed from federal court in Baton Rouge the last week of September.