Over the past few years, the Missouri Department of Corrections has gobbled up headlines for being one of the most female-unfriendly places to work in the state. Now, yet another employee has come forward having filed a hostile work environment and sexual discrimination and harassment claim against the DoC.
Tina Gallego is alleging that she was sexually harassed and poisoned by male guards at the Kansas City Re-Entry Center. Gallego says that she was targeted by male guards after testifying in a different sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of another plaintiff, Deborah Hesse. Hesse claimed that despite filing reports of misconduct by coworkers, she was ignored by her supervisors.
After she and a fellow co-worker filed separate lawsuits against the DoC, the State of Missouri was forced to fork over 1.92 million to Hesse for not responding to sexual harassment complaints. She accused male guards of soliciting the help of inmates to intimidate female staff.
Afterward, Gallego filed a lawsuit of her own alleging sexual harassment. At some point afterward, an inmate told her that she needed to watch her back and that she was in danger because she “snitched.” He also indicated that other prison guards were after her. Around the same time, she began vomiting and broke out into a major rash after drinking a can of soda. She did not return to work several days after that.
Missouri DoC Puts Officers on Administrative Leave
The Department of Corrections put both Hesse and Gallego on administrative leave with pay following the incident while conducting an investigation. They awarded Gallego $800,000 to settle her lawsuit. The state has now paid over $52 million over the past five years to settle sexual harassment claims against the DoC. At a rate of $10 million a year, you would think they would have done something about the problem before now.
A recently released 2016 report lists several instances in which male guards used racist and sexist language to refer to female guards. The State of Missouri withheld the release of the report for unknown reasons, perhaps to avoid future liability. The report was conducted by Ann Molloy whom the DoC hired to investigate allegations of sexual harassment within the department.
There was one incident involving a male guard who was called derogatory names by other male guards. The guard in question was threatened not to expose the conduct of certain male guards or else they would make his life a living hell. Supervisors indicated that they were aware of the conduct of the men in question. One guard resigned and two are facing a disciplinary assessment. The report also indicated that officers failed to cooperate with the investigation.
The situation as it stands has Missouri taxpayers footing the bill for the dysfunctional and nearly criminal culture of the Missouri DoC while the at-fault guards go unpunished for their conduct.
Contact a Hostile Work Environment Attorney Today
If your employer fails to take your complaints seriously or take remedial action against the offender, you have a right to sue. Call the Kansas City employment lawyers at HKM Employment Law at 816.607.4691 and we can begin working on your case immediately.