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$175,000 Settlement for NY BOP Employee Allegedly Threatened, Sexually Harassed by Coworker

by Joe Watson

Etta Traynham, a recreational specialist at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York City’s Federal Bureau of Prisons facility, settled a Title VII lawsuit filed against the Department of Justice for $175,000 in May 2008.

Traynham alleged in a January 2007 complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that Alberto Gonzalez, in his capacity as then-U.S. Attorney General, failed to protect her from an increasingly violent campaign of sexual harassment by her coworker, George Greene. Traynham claimed that Green threatened her physical safety and drove her out of work for five months. Traynham’s complaint also alleged retaliation against her for filing an EEO complaint in an attempt to protect herself under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Traynham cited several examples of crude sexual epithets and sexually offensive and violent language in her complaint that she alleged were directed at her by Greene, often in front of other coworkers. She claimed that prison officials repeatedly took no action. Traynham sought injunctive and declaratory relief, compensatory and punitive damages and other appropriate legal and equitable relief for sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and unlawful retaliation. She asserted that she had suffered mental anguish, emotional distress, other compensable injuries, and exposure to a continuing threat.

Judge Robert L. Carter signed a stipulation and order of settlement and dismissal on May 29, 2008, under which DOJ would pay Traynham $175,000, including attorney’s fees. DOJ also agreed to transfer Traynham to a position at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta. The stipulation and order stated that it did not constitute an admission of liability or fault by DOJ. See: Traynham v. Gonzalez, U.S.D.C. (S.D. N.Y.), Case No. 1:07-CV-436.

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Related legal case

Traynham v. Gonzalez