Law enforcement still must confront illegal workplace behavior. A correctional officer at the Lucas Correctional Center filed an employment lawsuit against the Lucas County Board of Commissioners and its sheriff’s office for failure to take quick actions to stop sexual discrimination and harassment by male inmates against her.
The plaintiff and other employees reported sexual discrimination and harassment by male inmates to management. But management often ignored the women and rarely disciplined the male inmates according to the suit.
The plaintiff was told during training that sexual harassment accompanied the job and there was nothing management could do, according to the lawsuit. The harassment began in Oct. 2012 when she started working as a CO and continued to the present.
She alleged numerous times when she reported sexual harassment to management where no disciplinary action was taken against the male inmates. Once, a shift sergeant witnessed the harassment.
The CO also claimed that she had to deal with crude and sexually violent comments. One time, an inmate told her that he was hoping to rape her to death and that his people would jump her outside prison.
She alleged male inmates regularly exposed themselves and masturbated openly in front of the plaintiff during her shift where she had to conduct hourly window and cell inspections. She claimed this happened during one shift after she reported an inmate who exposed himself and made vulgar comments and her report was passed on to inmates.
The plaintiff claimed that male COs never or infrequently faced similar harassment.
The sheriff’s office, according to her complaint, designated gender specific areas of the prison where only male or female employees could work. This generated sexual harassment because female employees worked in areas where they were likely to face it. Female officers were also required to work overtime in those gender specific jobs at lower pay.
The plaintiff named the county’s sheriff’s office and its board of county commissioners as defendants. They were charged with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by their failure to act on the alleged open and obvious sexual harassment and discrimination even though they had the capacity to control it.
An attorney can be a strong advocate for sexual harassment and discrimination victims. They can help victims pursue their rights to relief and damages.