$5,400 Payout by Montana DOC Over Ex-Prisoner’s Claim of Religious, Gender Discrimination
by David M. Reutter
The Montana Department of Corrections (MDOC) agreed to pay $5,400 to resolve a former prisoner’s claim that alleged religious discrimination and failed equal opportunities for women.
The November 7, 2019 Conciliation Agreement resolved complaints brought by prisoner May Simmons, who was held at the Montana Women’s Prison (MWP). Simmons filed a complaint with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Human Rights Bureau on August 20, 2018.
The complaint contained three claims: failure to afford equal opportunities in trade skills for women as provided men; failure to provide Simmons with a Jehovah’s Witness Bible or services; and failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for Simmons’ disabling condition.
The Conciliation Agreement provided for Simmons to receive $1,000 and her attorney, Eric Holm, received $4,400 in attorney fees. It also required MDOC to provide Simmons, who suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, with a typewriter and two ribbons for use in her cell until her release (which occurred on December 15, 2019). Additionally, prisoners of the Jehovah’s Witness denomination were to be “permitted to use the chapel for the exercise of their religion to the same extent and pursuant to the same rules as all other religious denominations within the prison.”
Under the agreement, MWP Warden Jennie Jensen and MWP Community Relations Manager Annamarie Siegfried-Derrick were required to participate in at least two hours of training in the “Montana Human Rights Act and the Governmental Code of Fair Practices (GCFP) with an emphasis on religion and analysis of the GCFP.” Prison break rooms and business offices must also post Montana Human Rights posters. See Simmons v. DOC/MWP, Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Human Rights Bureau, Case No. 1434-2019.
Related legal case
Simmons v. DOC/MWP, Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Human Rights Bureau
|Cite||Case No. 1434-2019|
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- Lawsuit Over Hellish 9-Day Prisoner Transport Reinstated, Oct. 1, 2020
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