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Cook Supervisor at FCI Petersburg Settles Racial Discrimination Complaint

Cleaster Williams, a long-time employee of the Federal Bureau of Prisons at Federal Correctional Institution Petersburg Low, Virginia, settled his racial discrimination suit against the Bureau in May, 2000.

Williams alleged that he was subject to racial discrimination at the hands of FCI Petersburg Low Food Service Administrator Mr. Cline, Assistant Food Service Administrator Mr. Dave McCay, and Associate Warden of Operations Mr. Aaron. As alleged in the complaint, Williams was told by Associate Warden Aaron that he was not a team player and would be fired soon, despite all of his job appraisals rating as positive.

The most shocking allegations of blatant racism by Federal Bureau of Prisons staff are buried further in the complaint. There Williams alleges that Food Service Administrator McCay "is very racist and cannot stand the sight of black men. He always discriminates against the black staff members [at FCI Petersburg Low] as well as black inmates. He hates me most especially because I refuse to condone and connive with him in mistreating the black inmates." He also explains, "The assistant food service administrator [Mr. McCay] has teamed up with the food administrator [Mr. Cline] and they are feeding information to [FCI Petersburg Low Associate Warden] Mr. Aaron who is their friend and shares their dislike for black people." The complaint further alleges that most prisoner kitchen workers were black, but that the few white prisoners who worked in the FCI Petersburg Low kitchen held the best jobs.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons and Williams settled the case on May 3, 2000. Williams agreed to accept $2,700.00 in full satisfaction of his claim, while the Bureau admitted no liability or racial discrimination.

The parties agreed to keep the settlement agreement confidential. However, in an effort to shine much needed light into the secretive world of Federal Bureau of Prisons administration, Prison Legal News filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents associated with this case. The Bureau fought the request for 12 years, but was ultimately forced to provide the documents.

Source: Williams v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, EEOC No. 12-99-6256X (May 3, 2000).

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Related legal case

Williams v. U.S. Dept. of Justice