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$316,131 Settlement In Ex BOP Employee's Civil Rights Suit

Former Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) employee Shelly Sheets brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the BOP in 1997, alleging disparate treatment, sexual harassment and retaliation. A jury awarded Sheets a total of $316,131.

Sheets, a seven year veteran guard, was trained at the Glenco Law Enforcement Academy (LEA) in 1992. A LEA staff member, Lt. Turner, criticized the BOP's hiring of women. Sheets complained to Captain Conger but no action was taken. Turner vowed to "run into her again" after learning of her complaint. Sheets was subsequently assigned to FCI Memphis. Her evaluation reports fell short of her actual performance. All female guards at the facility were allegedly denied additional training offered to the male guards and sexual harassment complaints were numerous and ignored by supervisors. Sheets injured her back and her worker's compensation claim was allegedly filed late by supervisors who claimed that she hurt her back during off duty recreation. Sheets was forced to resign in 1994. She brought the § 1983 action for civil rights violations requesting reinstatement, back pay and benefits, actual and compensatory damages for mental anguish and emotional distress plus costs and attorney fees.

A U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee jury found in Sheets' favor. The jury awarded her actual damages in the amount of $116,131 and $200,000 in compensatory damages. See: Sheets v. Hawk, USDC, W.D. Tenn., Case No. 97 2436 GV (Dec. 7, 1998).

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