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$528,858 Federal Jury Award Against BOP in Racial Discrimination Case

On December 7, 2000, a federal jury awarded former federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) employee Debbie E. Tickle $114,000 for loss of wages and $300,000 for emotional pain a suffering in a racial discrimination lawsuit she brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2003e et seq.

Tickle, who is white, was a unit secretary at FCI Memphis when a new, black woman was hired. The new employee had trouble getting along with the other employees, who were white women, and started making racially charged comments to prisoners. Tickle complained of this to the assistant warden who failed to intervene. Therefore, Tickle sought and received a transfer to a new position as SIS Tech, a position two black females had also applied for.

Tickle's new superiors were both black men who wanted one of the other candidates to have been hired. They began making the workplace environment difficult for Tickle by failing to train her, setting impossible work goals, talking to her in a loud and abusive fashion, playing loud rap music during work hours and ejecting her from the office to make personal phone calls and whenever they talked with one another. They also surrounded her workplace with the wet, bloody clothing of a prisoner who had been fatally stabbed.

Tickle complained. The assistant warden took no action. She began to experience significant health issues related to the workplace harassment so she resigned.

Aided by St. Louis attorneys Francis E. Pennington, III and Frances X. Neune, Jr. and Orlando, Florida attorney Charles V. Choyce, Tickle filed a federal lawsuit alleging workplace discrimination that had resulted in constructive discharge. The jury found that Tickle had suffered from a hostile work environment based on her race and was constructively discharged, awarding her $414,000. The court subsequently awarded her $98,951.62 in attorney fees, $12,792.98 in expert witness fees and $3,113.49 in costs for a total award of $528,858.09. See: Tickle v. Reno, U.S.D.C.-E.D. Mo., Case No. 4:99-cv-00446-DJS.

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Related legal case

Tickle v. Reno