Lawsuit Over ‘Female-Only’ Correctional Facility Jobs, Sex Discrimination Settled By DOJ

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Elizabeth Louise Contributor
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A lawsuit between the State of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) regarding discriminatory practices against females in a correctional facility has been resolved by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The settled lawsuit involved claims that the defendants were engaged in discriminating against female correctional officers working at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility (WHV) in Ypsilanti, Michigan, by classifying four jobs as “female-only” and refusing to allow female job transfers, according to the DOJ statement.

As a result of engaging in these discriminatory practices against females, the defendants were in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII specifically prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. (RELATED: SCOTUS Rules Federal Employment Discrimination Laws Protect LGBT, Trans Employees)

28 female correctional officers who either previously or currently worked at WHV and had experienced sex discrimination in their jobs originally filed charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Upon further investigation, the EEOC found that there was reason to believe that the defendants had violated Title VII.

“The female correctional officers employed by the Michigan Department of Corrections will finally be able to work under conditions that are fair and consistent with equal employment opportunity principles,” explained Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“This settlement agreement is an important first step in eliminating the sex discrimination that has so hampered the workplace for female correctional officers currently assigned to the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility.”

As terms of the settlement agreement, the defendants will be required to pay $750,000 in order to compensate any female correctional officer who worked at the correctional facility between 2009 and the present who may have experienced discrimination in their work environment, including those involved with filing charges with the EEOC.

Additionally, in order to rectify damages done, the State of Michigan and the MDOC will seek to improve the number of female correctional officers hired, allow females to have the option to transfer out of WHV, and start a review process for female-only jobs which complies with Title VII, according to the DOJ statement.

This is not the first time that the State of Michigan has had to make changes, and pay $750,000 in a settlement regarding discriminatory practices towards female correctional officers. In 2016, a lawsuit was brought forward by female correctional officers who had worked at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility claiming that as a result of those discriminatory practices they had to work overtime.