(CNN)The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the Mobile County Sheriff's Office in Alabama and Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran over allegations of sex discrimination from 12 current and former female corrections officers.

The complaint alleges the women -- and other female employees -- were subject to a sexually hostile work environment, which would be a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It alleges the officers at the Mobile Metro Jail endured various forms of severe sexual harassment by male inmates, including physical contact, threats of sexual violence, exposing their genitalia, and using sexual slurs and degrading comments at the women.

"Nobody deserves to be sexually harassed while on the job," Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the DOJ Civil Rights Division said in a statement. "The behavior to which these female employees were subjected is appalling, and the County's failure to take action to protect its employees from such conduct is inexcusable."

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