JACKSON — The Northampton County Sheriff’s Office is facing a legal claim from a former deputy.
The claim, from former deputy Tiffany Dickens, comes after allegedly being terminated after returning from disability leave in the wake of a sexual harassment claim.
Attorney Cate Edwards, with Edwards Kirby Attorney at Law out of Raleigh, said she has been working with Dickens since June regarding the claim. Edwards said the claim has been filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but not yet with the court.
“Ms. Dickens has a claim for sexual harassment that resulted in a need to take disability leave,” she said. “She was terminated when she returned from that leave in retaliation.”
On Nov. 11, Sheriff Jack Smith with the Northampton County Sheriff’s, said the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the internal investigation and could not give any specific details. When asked if the investigation resulted from Dickens’ claim, Smith said he could not comment on the matter as he has not received anything official, but did address the allegation that the office retaliated against Dickens as “inaccurate.”
“I would never retaliate against anyone, period,” he said in response to the allegation.
On Tuesday, Chief Deputy Scott Hall with the Halifax Sheriff’s Office said that Smith requested assistance with the investigation.
“Unfortunately, at this time, with an open investigation, I’m not at liberty to discuss details,” Hall said when asked for more information.
Edwards said they had not been told anything about the investigation, but alleged the sheriff’s office violated Dickens’ rights and wrongfully terminated her employment.
“She is suffering as a result,” she said regarding the claim. “It is unfortunate that it took Ms. Dickens asserting a legal claim for the sheriff’s department to take this matter seriously. We are hopeful, however, that Ms. Dickens’ courage to bring this claim forward creates genuine change within the sheriff’s office so that this does not happen to anyone else.”