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$157,000 Settlement in Michigan DOC Employee Discrimination Case

by David M. Reutter

The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) agreed to pay $157,500 to settle a lawsuit alleging it had discriminated against a female prison guard.

Merrianne Weberg, 58, began working for the MDOC in 1992 and was promoted to sergeant in 1995 while at the Western Wayne Correctional Center. She transferred to the Macon Correctional Facility (MCF) in 1998, and was promoted to lieutenant in 2006. She alleged that in 2008 she was the last female employee at MCF to be promoted to a shift commander position.

She further alleged that since that time she was “passed over for promotion to the rank of [ ] Captain or Inspector approximately twenty times.” When she applied for those positions, they “were filled by younger men with less seniority, less experience, and whom were ... friends of the administrative staff.”

When Lt. Lawrence McKinney was promoted to captain, Warden Randall Haas told Weberg that she was “spent” and that unless she “got in the car” with one of the inspectors or deputy wardens, she would not be promoted.

Deputy Warden Darrell Steward acknowledged to Weberg that “while Lt. McKinney was not the most qualified for the position, which only he and [Weberg] interviewed for,” McKinney would learn the job.

Weberg alleged that she was demoted to a less preferential shift and denied training needed to advance to an Inspector’s position. Her grievances, she alleged, also resulted in more severe discipline than that imposed on other guards for a $12 pizza theft incident.

Weberg, represented by attorneys James B. Razor and Andrew J. Laurila, filed suit in July 2017. The $157,500 settlement was reached in September 2018. See: Weberg v. Michigan Department of Corrections, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Mich.), Case No. 2:17-cv-12027-MAG-DRG. 

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Related legal case

Weberg v. Michigan Department of Corrections