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Federal Prison Whistleblower Receives $2,400 in Retaliation Complaint

On July 17, 2003, a former federal prison employee settled his multiple discrimination and retaliation complaints against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for $2,400. Documents related to the case just recently were released to Prison Legal News as a result of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act request.

Gaylee D. Washington Jr. was employed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Jesup, Georgia in 2001 as an Assistant Security Officer. Washington's wife, Helen, also worked at FCI Jesup as a Customer Service Assistant. The Washingtons filed several complaints with the BOP and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) in which they detailed harassment and retaliation they suffered at FCI Jesup. The complaints alleged that from the warden on down, the pair were routinely passed over for promotions, for example, for their whistleblowing activities, as well as filing retaliation complaints themselves. According to Washington's EEOC complaint; he and his wife "have reported incidents of illegal activity (at FCI Jesup) to the Office of Special Counsel • and the Office of Inspector General." •

One EEOC complaint stated that after Gaylee testified at the hearing of a fellow worker's discrimination complaint, he was passed over for several temporary promotions that went to less-qualified individuals. Gaylee said he was also targeted for conduct, such as directly emailing the warden, that has never before "been addressed as being a problem." Gaylee said he was also falsely accused of tampering with a co-worker's key ring.

Following Gaylee's first complaint, he filed two more, alleging he was retaliated against for filing the first complaint. Gaylee said he was given negative job evaluations following this first complaint, even though every previous job review resulted in an "outstanding" rating. Gaylee reported he was also falsely investigated for an incident that occurred 4 1/2 years earlier, suffered from staff gossiping about the investigation, and was wrongly denied sick leave.

Three months after Gaylee filed his third and final EEOC complaint -- which sought $300,000 in damages -- the parties settled for $2,400, plus reinstatement of 34.5 hours of sick leave. The terms of the agreement were to be kept confidential, and the BOP expressly denied any wrongdoing in the case. See: Washington v. Ashcroft, EEOC Case. No. 110-82-8515X (July 16, 2003).

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Related legal case

Washington v. Ashcroft