EXCLUSIVE: Documents reveal sexual harassment settlement against Hinds County tax collector will cost $110K

Updated: Nov. 14, 2019 at 5:57 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Exclusive documents obtained by 3 On Your Side reveal a sexual harassment lawsuit against Hinds County Tax Collector Eddie Fair has been settled for $110,000, most of which will be paid by the county’s insurance provider.

The case, filed in U.S. District Court nearly two years ago, involves allegations made against Fair by former Hinds County employee Bernitha Rice.

Rice said in the complaint that Fair subjected her to “frequent unwelcomed [sic] verbal sexual advances and physical contact” throughout her employment, which lasted approximately three months in 2016.

Rice also said that a coworker told her that Fair could not be sued and had immunity against any type of lawsuit.

According to Rice, the county’s employee handbook stated all complaints would have to be sent to Fair, who was the one accused of the behavior.

Fair terminated Rice’s employment, claiming it was for insubordination, according to the complaint.

The agreement, filed with Hinds County Thursday, indicates the settlement was made for “economic reasons by someone on behalf of” Fair and/or the county.

According to the county’s insurance policy, the Mississippi Association of Supervisors Insurance Trust will pay $100,000 of the settlement, leaving taxpayers directly on the hook for the remaining $10,000.

The agreement does not explicitly state whether Fair admits any liability or responsibility in agreeing to this settlement amount.

That differs from other settlement agreements obtained by 3 On Your Side earlier this year, particularly those involving outgoing Hinds County Sheriff Victor Mason.

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Fair denied the allegations made in the complaint.

“I didn’t do anything to her. Never touched her,” Fair said.

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