A black prison lieutenant at a Michigan correctional facility recently filed a legal claim against the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) and a captain at the facility, alleging retaliation and discrimination. According to the lieutenant’s claim, officials at the facility retaliated against him after he complained that a co-worker called him the “n” word.
The lieutenant apparently worked at the DOC for 13 years and was moving up the employment ladder, until he heard about a conversation that took place between two white captains at the prison Christmas party. One captain apparently told the other captain that he did not want a “n” word for a boss. According to the complaint, the other captain was interviewing for a position at another prison, and the captain’s comment was made on the assumption that if the other captain left, the lieutenant would be promoted to deputy warden.
The other captain apparently informed the lieutenant of what was said, and the lieutenant reported the incident to his employer. Since his report, the lieutenant alleged that he was demoted from captain to lieutenant, due to an alleged “reduction in force,” and has been overlooked for promotions. Co-workers also isolated the lieutenant as a result, calling him a, “snitch” and excluding him from work-related meetings.
DOC apparently did an investigation the lieutenant’s complaint, and after the captain who made the comment admitted to what he said and was given a five-day suspension. The other captain was also investigated for not reporting the comment.
Many complaints have been filed against the DOC over the past few years by a number of employees and former employees alleging racial discrimination, retaliation, harassment and sexual harassment. In 2019, there have reportedly been four judgments or settlements for over $13 million stemming from these types of complaints.
Federal discrimination laws prohibit employers from taking action against an employee based on the employee’s race, national origin and other protected areas. An employment law attorney can review cases and help file claims against employers. Victims of workplace whose lawsuits are successful may be awarded compensatory and punitive damages.