Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Prison Guard Re-Hired by Bureau of Prisons After Discriminatory Firing

Connie L. Thomas, a prison guard at Federal Correctional Institution Bastrop, Texas, agreed to settle her Title VII Civil Rights Act Lawsuit for discrimination on the basis of sex against the Federal Bureau of Prisons. She had sought monetary damages, injunctive relief, and a declaratory judgment.

Thomas alleged that she was terminated from her position on November 21, 1995 in a discriminatory manner. She alleged that she received two "minimally successful performance log entries" for failure to properly control keys, and for abandoning her post and improper control of tools. On November 27, 1995 she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Thomas admitted that she dropped her handcuff key while in the disciplinary segregation range of the FCI Bastrop Special Housing Unit on October 8, 1995 but noted that the key was immediately retrieved by Counselor Presley. She was terminated, in part, as a result of this incident. In her lawsuit, Thomas claimed that this was discriminatory because Senior Officer Specialist J.R. Rodriguez (a man) and Communications Foreman Brinkman (a man) also lost keys. In the former case, according to the complaint, prison guard Rodriguez "lost the compound #2 key ring during his probationary year. He left them in the bathroom, and the key ring was turned in to the Lt. by an inmate." In the latter case, as discussed in the complaint, prison guard Brinkman lost his keys, which were "eventually found in a mud puddle in the Facilities/UNICOR area."

Thomas denied that she abandoned her post, and claimed that she was not responsible for the loss of a mallet from a tool cage. Instead, she claimed that FCI Bastrop prison guard Baker, a white male, was responsible for the mallet, but that its loss was blamed on her because of her sex.

Thomas and the Federal Bureau of Prisons settled the case in April, 2001. The defendants admitted no liability, but agreed to rehire Ms. Thomas as a prison guard at FCI Bastrop, assuming that she complied with the terms and conditions of employment, which include: 1) passing the Physical Ability Test required for all prison guards; 2) passing a background check; 3) serving a one-year probationary period; and 4) successfully completing the three week Introduction to Correctional Techniques course conducted at the Federal Bureau of Prisons Staff Training Academy in Glynco, Georgia.

The documents from this case were obtained by Prison Legal News after a 12-year battle with the Federal Bureau of Prisons over a Freedom of Information Act request seeking settlements the Bureau has made with inmates and staff.

Source: Thomas v. Reno, No. A-99-CA-678-JN (W.D. Tex. filed on June 19, 2000).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Thomas v. Reno