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CCA Warden's Title VII Claims Dismissed

When a Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) facility warden failed to establish a discriminatory practice, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment dismissing the Title VII claims.

After being promoted to warden at a new CCA facility: Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona in 1999, Jose F. Luna had the responsibilities of hiring/training employees; establishing security and operational procedures; and setting up medical, food, commissary, and laundry service and delivery. In addition, he was responsible for maintaining the facility’s contract with Alaska and Hawaii, which supplied the prisoners.

In spite of being burdened with having to open the facility ahead of schedule, inadequate security staff and medical personnel, no weapons for guards, water and sewage problems, CCA's performance evaluation showed Luna went from "exceeding requirement" to "meeting requirements." Not only did a Hawaiian customer representative file a formal complaint for inadequate staffing and security issues, but he threatened to sue CCA if the conditions at Red Rock did not improve. Three months later, the Hawaiian rep filed a second complaint on issues stemming from staff shortage.

Alaska's representative expressed displeasure over the contract performance and Red Rock and sent a "contract monitor" for observation on a regular basis. CCA sent a memo to Luna directing him to make improvements with the clients and management at Red Rock. A month later, CCA reprimanded Luna for numerous security breaches. Then after a follow-up audit that showed continued failure to correct security issues and ineffective communications with clients, Luna requested a facility transfer as an assistant warden.

Luna then filed an EEOC for demotion and discrimination against CCA. Receiving the approval of EEOC to proceed with a suit, Luna filed a Title VII suit against CCA in a Texas federal court. CCA in turn filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which the district court granted.

Luna appealed to the Fifth Circuit, alleging the district court erred by not considering the eight white wardens that were comparatively similarly situated as him. Because Luna failed to produce evidence of his demotion as pretextual or that the white wardens were treated preferentially in "nearly identical circumstances", the Fifth Circuit affirmed the properly granted summary judgment in favor of CCA. See: Luna v. Corrections Corporation of America, 469 Fed.Appx. 301 (5th Cir. 2012) (unpublished).

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Related legal case

Luna v. Corrections Corporation of America