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Lawsuit alleges workplace discrimination in prison

Workers in every work environment can be subject to stress and interpersonal issues that can compromise their ability to work. It is the apparent dangers to safety that are the clearest problems requiring legal recourse, for the sake of the suing employee or former employee as well as the work environment.

A psychologist serving California's prison system has filed a workplace discrimination suit against the Department of Corrections. She is claiming that her own sexual orientation and reporting of mistreatment of LGBTQ inmates led to a corrections officer putting her in dangerous situations.

The female mental health professional, who is a lesbian, reported poor treatment of gay and transgender inmates multiple times since 2014 and claims she was ignored and faced retaliation from other officers. She reported one officer harassed her and suggested that inmates attack her.

Perhaps the most serious specific allegation in the psychologist's suit is that a fellow corrections officer locked her in a room with a violent criminal found guilty of sexual assault without access to an alarm. She claims this occurred once in 2015 and once in 2016.

After these incidents, she was demoted to an administrative position, allegedly in retaliation for reporting inmate mistreatment. The suit includes charges of civil rights violations, whistleblower protection law violations, and retaliatory practices.

Employees of federal, state and private institutions have rights that protect them from harassing and dangerous behavior in the workplace. Legal action may result in job reinstatement, financial restitution and legal injunctions against unlawful behavior in the workplace.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, "Prison Doctor Sues State Alleging LGBTQ Discrimination," Kathleen Ronayne, Aug. 15, 2017

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