New Mexico settles lawsuit over sex bias with prison workers
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Current and former employees of a prison have reached a $2.5 million settlement with the state to resolve allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.
Six female correctional officers filed a civil rights complaint in 2015 describing the state prison in Los Lunas where they worked as a “sexualized, violent environment,” the Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday.
Male colleagues would expose themselves, shared graphic pictures and videos, made derogatory comments and inappropriately touched the female correctional officers, they said.
The lawsuit states the women claim supervisors were aware of the situation, but they did not take appropriate action.
Twenty-five current and former employees of the state Corrections Department are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The state Corrections Department has denied the allegations and said the settlement was reached to avoid a costly legal battle.
It’s unknown if any employees who were placed on administrative leave after the Corrections Department launched an internal investigation in response to the lawsuit were ultimately disciplined. Spokesmen for the state didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Five of the women in the lawsuit have since left the state prison, said Laura Schauer Ives, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
The women hope the lawsuit leads to better working conditions for female employees and a recognition that a corrections career isn’t just for men.
“Our clients are obviously hopeful that, in coming forward and bringing light to the hyper-sexualized environment of the facility, that other women will be heard in the future, that they’ll be more likely to be believed, and that most importantly, they just hope it doesn’t happen,” Schauer Ives said.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com