A former female guard at a Chattanooga prison has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging that the Silverdale Detention Center was a sexually hostile work environment. The facility is run by CoreCivic, formerly the Corrections Corporation of America, a company notorious for the number of lawsuits filed against it.
In her suit, the woman claims she was forced to work by herself with male inmates, and suffered from sexual harassment, groping, and outright attacks. She says co-workers ignored her when she cried for help, and a supervisor told her, “Boys will be boys,” when she told him about the abuse.
Five Specific Incidents
The lawsuit details five specific incidents occurring when the guard was left alone with inmates. In June 2018, she was grabbed by two inmates on the buttocks, and they refused to move away from her when she told them to do so. The inmates had also made remarks about having sex with her.
When the guard issued a code red for the danger she was in, there was no response from fellow guards. Other inmates eventually rescued her. Not long afterward, the second incident occurred when some inmates made very graphic references to having sex with her, and refused her order to return to their cells. She again issued a code red, but a supervisor told her she needed to grow a tougher skin.
In August, several inmates exposed themselves to her and one inmate made “aggressive” comments of a sexual nature. She was only able to leave after repeatedly requesting help from fellow officers.
On September 1, a similar situation occurred, and a supervisor told her to ignore them. Then, one inmate pulled her into his cell, kissing and groping her. She issued another code red – with no response – but did manage to escape.
A few days later, several inmates warned her to stay away from the inmate who had grabbed her. While she had filed a disciplinary form against the inmate, it was lost, and she was too frightened to write another one. She was so frightened, in fact, that she never went back to the prison and quit her job. She claims she was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of the attack. Her lawsuit alleges that management ignored her complaints, failed to discipline the inmates involved and did not provide her with a safe workplace free from male inmate sexual harassment and assault.
A CoreCivic representative replied to the USA Today Network by saying that it takes the allegations “very seriously,” adding there are various types of training available and options to report such incidents.
The company will not comment on the lawsuit per se. Interestingly, employee reviews on Indeed.com about CoreCivic echo much of what the female guard alleges regarding management.
“You can't trust your Upper Management! Starting with the Warden all the way down to the Sgt's.”
“I enjoyed working with a lot of my co-workers but management was horrible. They were not for the most part people persons more corporate then anything.”
“You will be treated like trash by all hire ups. You will have no home life due to staff turnover and working so much over time. I have only received one raise in 8 years even tho the company has made over a billion dollars a year in profit. They do not care about their staff.”
“They cannot keep good people and the idea is to keep cost low and is the goal nothing else. Poor, POOR, training, No backing by staff, inmates have more rights than you do.”
“Very high turnover rate due to supervision and lack of appreciation for staff and sacrifices made.”