The Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) has issued its latest settlement to settle allegations of harassment, lewd comments, vulgarity, and debasing behavior. This latest settlement, for $165,625, is the latest in a string of cases against the DOC. Last year, two juries awarded $4 million for harassment and discrimination; more cases are working their way through the courts. It does not appear Missouri or the DOC are in any mood to enact reforms to curb this behavior.
In response to these string of lawsuits, Houser Speaker Todd Richardson announced the formation of the House Subcommittee on Corrections Workforce Environment and Conduct. The special committee will investigate allegations of harassment and try to curb the behavior. The committee will hold its first hearings next week.
According to the latest lawsuit, the DOC engaged in a pattern of discrimination and retaliation against its employees. In 2013, the plaintiff had to undergo foot surgery. Later in the year, her doctor ordered a second surgery. The plaintiff filed for leave time and received a letter acknowledging her voluntary resignation.
Moreover, the DOC is not in a sharing mood. The settlement forbade the plaintiff or her attorneys from discussing the case. Additionally, the Pitch, the news organization that broke the story, had to engage in multiple requests to obtain the settlement terms (settlement agreements with a public agency are public record and subject to disclosure to anyone who asks, no exceptions).
Discrimination suits arise in many different situations, even in the government and the Department of Corrections. If you believe you were the victim of harassment or workplace discrimination, you should contact a lawyer for assistance. You don’t need to take these actions; you can enforce your rights. You are entitled to work in a safe environment that respects you, unfortunately, sometimes only you will stand up for your rights.
Source: The Pitch, “http://www.pitch.com/news/article/20850639/prison-broke-part-5-missouris-latest-docdiscrimination-lawsuit-settlement-revealed,” Karen Dillon, January 31, 2016