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Transgendered Corrections Officer Sues for Workplace Discrimination

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Sacramento, CA: A corrections officer in the California State Prison, Sacramento who refuses to quit her job is suing The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) for discrimination and for not responding to what plaintiff Meghan Frederick claims is a hostile work environment.

The issue is centered on Frederick’s transgender from male to female, which the plaintiff commenced in 2012 after working at the prison for ten years. Since her decision to transgender – which she has done successfully – Frederick claims she has suffered discrimination, abuse and isolation by her peers. It translates, she told KQED Television (08/29/17), into an unsafe work environment. And she claims prison officials are doing little, if anything to support her.

“I am isolated by my peers and that is quite scary,” Frederick told KQED. “Within a maximum-security prison we need and depend upon each other, my fellow officers, for support and camaraderie. And I seem to have lost that because of the transphobic environment that’s endemic within this institution and in this department overall.”

On numerous occasions, Frederick claims she has actually been locked in stairwells and sally ports by fellow corrections officers.

Her employer’s response?

“I had a direct supervisor that told me that I was being overly sensitive,” she said. “And I find that very difficult to take because here’s my direct supervisor who’s charged with making sure the other officers adhere to our zero-tolerance policy stating that Officer Frederick is overly sensitive. It sort of gives a green light to the other officers to continue with their hateful discriminatory behavior.”

Frederick, in her discrimination lawsuit, also asserts CDCR management at the prison failed to discipline corrections officers who allegedly mocked her. Frederick also notes in her complaint that threats on Frederick’s life from inmates that occurred in 2014, were not revealed to Frederick by prison staff, or management.

“The kite [note] expressly named Plaintiff and stated that Plaintiff was to be killed on the yard,” the complaint states. “Defendant’s protocol was to immediately notify the subject of such a threat in order that they could protect themselves, then to conduct an immediate investigation to ensure that the threat was not carried out. Such threats are supposed to be taken seriously because they often occur quickly, leaving little or no time for defense. However, Plaintiff did not learn about the threat for many weeks after it was made.”

Frederick told KQED that she enjoys her job managing a maximum-security housing unit within the prison, and is good at it. She has no intention of leaving. She admitted to KQED, however that the bullying and discrimination she alleges to have encountered has taken an emotional and financial toll, and Frederick is seeking damages for emotional distress and lost wages.

“I am constantly mis-gendered by individuals that have known me for quite some time or whom I’ve corrected on a number of occasions,” she said. “They delegitimatize [sic] my female gender. They don’t recognize it. They don’t respect it and I’m not treated like the other female officers. I’m constantly called sir.”

The CDCR would not comment to KQED on pending litigation beyond releasing an excerpt from the California Code of Regulations Title 15, Crime Prevention and Corrections:

“3005. Conduct. (a) Inmates and parolees shall obey all laws, regulations, and local procedures, and refrain from behavior which might lead to violence or disorder, or otherwise endangers facility, outside community or another person. (b) Obeying Orders. Inmates and parolees must promptly and courteously obey written and verbal orders and instructions from department staff and from employees of other agencies with authorized responsibility for the custody and supervision of inmates and parolees.

“3391. Employee Conduct. (a) Employees shall be alert, courteous, and professional in their dealings with inmates, parolees, fellow employees, visitors and members of the public. Inmates and parolees shall be addressed by their proper names, and never by derogatory or slang reference.”

The CDCR is on record as denying Frederick’s charges and has moved to have her discrimination lawsuit dismissed.

The California discrimination lawsuit is Meghan Frederick v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation et al, Case No. 34-2017-00213234, in the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento.

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