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$37,500 Settlement in Discrimination Suit Against Corizon Health

Corizon Health agreed to pay $37,500 to a former employee who alleged she was discriminated against based on race and was subjected to a hostile work environment.

Laurie Astern was hired by Corizon on August 11, 2014, to work as a physician assistant at the Union Correctional Institution medical clinic in Florida. Her civil complaint, which was filed on February 3, 2015, alleged that immediately upon reporting to work she was subjected to disparate treatment.

She alleged she was never given computer access and it took weeks before the paperwork was filed for her to begin seeing patients and for prescriptive privileges. She was subjected to daily pat-downs upon entry to the prison when such searches were to be random.

Astern alleged that she was asked to sign back-dated forms authorizing the use of force and prisoners’ refusal of medical care. She refused to sign them. She further alleged that staff were submitting bogus medical orders so they could obtain medications without paying for them.

Astern was harassed about a shirt that staff said was “see through.” She was ultimately called into the warden’s office concerning the incident and denied the shirt was transparent. “Are you calling my officers liars?” the warden asked. The incident resulted in the warden ordering Astern to be escorted off prison grounds.

On September 5, 2014, Astern was informed by Corizon that she was terminated and that it was not paying her $10,000 relocation fee, which was contrary to Astern’s contract. Represented by Tallahassee attorney Marie A. Mattox, Astern sued. She alleged violation of Florida law, breach of contract, and tortuous interference with a business relationship.

The parties reached a settlement in March 25, 2016. It paid Astern $10,000 for a “Relocation/Sign-On Bonus,” $6,250 in lost wages, $6,250 in compensatory damages, and $15,000 for attorney fees and costs. See: Astern v. Corizon Health et al., Florida Eighth Judicial Circuit Court Case No. 63-2015-CA-0015

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Related legal case

Astern v. Corizon Health et al.