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BOP Fails and Prevails in Prison Guard Discrimination Complaint

by Christopher Zoukis

Robert T. Aranda, an "inmate systems officer" (prison guard), was a very litigious Bureau of Prisons employee. Between 1996 and 1998, while working at multiple BOP facilities in several capacities, Aranda filed at least six complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He alleged variations of racial (Hispanic) and gender (male) discrimination against many bureau employees, as well as retaliation for his many filings.

In one instance, Aranda alleged discrimination because he was required to write a letter explaining why he deserved better ratings on his performance reports. In his EEOC complaint, Aranda said that "writing that letter made me feel like they thought I was illiterate and had come out of the feilds [sic]."

Administrative Judge Glenn G. Meyers heard all of Aranda's claims in August 2001. After two days of evidence, including the testimony of 18 witnesses, Judge Meyers found for Aranda in part, and the Bureau of Prisons in part. The judge found that three of Aranda's discrimination claims, which alleged "non-selection" for promotion, were legitimate cases of discrimination based on national origin and sex.

The judge found for the Bureau of Prisons on all other claims of discrimination.

Aranda also prevailed on claims that he was subjected to retaliation by Warden Joe W. Booker, Jr., of Federal Correctional Institution Florence, Colorado and BOP employees Lynn Harper, Kristy Tarango (formerly Masse), and Carolyn Nicklin.

In his various EEOC filings, Aranda demanded in excess of $44 million in damages. He also demanded the firing of FCI Florence Warden Booker, Lieutenant JoAnne Taley, Lieutenant Virginia Moraga, Associate Warden Wayne Smith, Inmate Systems Manager Scott Smith, and Inmate Systems Officer Scott Boyle, along with immediate promotion for himself to various positions.

No one was fired, and Aranda won $9,000.00 in compensatory damages. He was not promoted, but was awarded back pay for one hour. His attorney, Lee T. Judd, Esq., was awarded $7,460.10 in fees.

The documents from this case were obtained by Prison Legal News after prevailing in a 12-year court battle with the Bureau of Prisons over a Freedom of Information Act records request.

See: EEOC Case No. 320-98-8037X, BOP Agency Case Nos. P-96-8964, P-96-9054, P-97-9098, P-97-9181, P-97-9232, and P-98-9534.

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