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CCA Agrees to Pay $1.3 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Suit

On October 1, 2009, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) entered into a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to settle allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation involving female employees at the company’s Crowley County Correctional Facility (CCCF) in Colorado.

In September 2006, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against CCA and Dominion Correctional Services, a now-defunct corporation that once operated CCCF. According to the plaintiffs, female staff members at the facility were subjected to “unlawful sexual harassment and gender-based harassment.” For example, the complaint alleged female employees were hired based on whether they might be “easy to get to bed.” After the women were hired they were “routinely groped, pawed, and physically assaulted by male management and male co-workers.”

When women reported this sexual harassment or when others supported them, retaliation often resulted, which “contribut[ed] to and perpetuat[ed] the hostile work environment,” the complaint stated.

Retaliatory acts included increased scrutiny for employees who complained; failure to investigate claims of harassment and retaliation; making false charges in order to justify retaliatory discipline; assigning employees who complained to areas where there was an increased risk of harm; and intentionally assigning female employees to work with their alleged harassers, thereby exposing them to “actual and threatened abuse.”

CCA agreed to settle the case, according to court documents, “solely to avoid the cost and uncertainties of trial.” The company admitted no wrongdoing.

The $1.3 million settlement requires CCA to pay employees who were subjected to harassment or retaliation from $7,500 to $155,000, depending on the circumstances of each particular case. Private counsel representing some of the plaintiffs will receive $140,000 in attorney fees out of the total settlement amount.

Aside from monetary compensation, the settlement also requires CCA to expunge disciplinary infractions from the personnel files of plaintiffs who were improperly disciplined. The settlement further requires more training for CCA employees in the areas of sexual harassment and retaliation, as well as the establishment of a clear sexual harassment and retaliation policy.

The plaintiffs who had private counsel were represented by Denver attorney Barry Roseman. See: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. CCA, U.S.D.C. (D. Col.), Case No. 1:06-cv-01956-KHV-MJW.

Additional source: Pueblo Chieftain

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Related legal case

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. CCA,

Please see the brief bank for documents related to this case.