Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Sexually Harassed Prison Kitchen Worker Awarded $90,000

On August 20, 2002, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
Kentucky awarded $90,000 to a prison kitchen worker who was sexually
harassed by a prison captain. The judgment was against her former
employer, Kellwell Food Management (KFM).

While working for KFM as a prison kitchen supervisor at the Lee Adjustment
Center in Beattyville, Kentucky, a state prison operated by Corrections
Corporation of America (CCA), plaintiff Sheila Miller claimed she was
sexually harassed by prison captain Earl McQueen. In April 2000, according
to Miller, the harassment culminated in McQueen pulling the fire alarm in
order to empty the kitchen, except for himself and Miller. Once alone,
McQueen propositioned Miller and exposed himself to her.

Miller reported the incident to her employer, KFM, but no action was
taken. Unable to continue working around McQueen, Miller did not return to

Miller filed suit against KFM alleging that: 1) she was exposed to severe
and pervasive sexual harassment; 2) she suffered retaliation for
complaining about the sexual harassment; and 3) she was constructively
discharged. Miller claimed the retaliation consisted of KFM taking no
steps to separate her and McQueen, and that it was retaliation that led to
her constructive discharge. Miller had also sued CCA; however, the court
agreed with CCA that it was not an employer for Title VII purposes and
granted summary judgment in CCA's favor.

KFM defended, suggesting that the incident with McQueen may have been
consensual. KFM also claimed that Miller had refused to fill out a written

At trial Miller prevailed on the sexual harassment and retaliation claims,
but KFM prevailed on the constructive discharge claim. Miller was awarded
$87,500 for sexual harassment ($30,000 in lost wages, $2,500 for pain and
suffering, and $55,000 in punitive damages) and $2,500 for retaliation
($1,500 for pain and suffering and $1,000 in punitive damages). Miller's
total award was $90,000.

Miller was represented by Ned Pillersdorf of the Prestonsburg,
Kentucky law firm Pillersdorf, DeRossett & Lane. See: Miller v. Kellwell
Food Management, USDC ED KY, Case No. 01 CV 0205.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Miller v. Kellwell Food Management