Black corrections officer sues MDOC over discrimination, hostile work environment

- The Michigan Department of Corrections is facing a major discrimination lawsuit. A corrections officer is suing the Michigan Department of Corrections, alleging he's being retaliated against for whistleblowing - and discriminated against because he's black.

"It's a very hostile work environment, very hostile," said a corrections officer.

"Minority workers are four times more likely to be disciplined," attorney Jim Rasor says. Rasor says the MDOC's own internal investigation proves the system discriminates against minority employees.

Rasor points to the department's own internal study from 2009 that found "Minority employees are disciplined more frequently than non-minorities in the department of corrections." And this man, who has spent almost 20 years as a corrections officer, claims it's happening to him.

"It's harder to deal with the supervisors and the discrimination that's going on, versus actually doing our job with the prisoners," he says.

He says when he was transferred to Macomb Correctional Facility four years ago, the trouble started after he reported a superior for making and posting a spoof of a training video online. He says he was disciplined by that superior for using a computer for personal use and reported for sleeping on the  job - which he says internal video proves didn't happen. He says he's being disciplines and retaliated against for whistleblowing, but also because he's black.

"He and a group of other African Americans showed up at the firing range at the appointed time," Rasor says, "but were kept from certifying."

Rasor says they were told to come back later while white officers were allowed in. He claims it's one example in a pattern of problems within the Michigan Department of Corrections.

"This memorandum - an internal memorandum --  done by MDOC, clearly shows system-wide, state-wide racial discrimination that black folks are sanctioned in their employment discipline four times more than white folks," Rasor says. "They haven't done a thing about it and it continues to this day."

An MDOC spokesman says they can't comment, having not seen the lawsuit, but point out the internal investigation is several years old. However, the spokesman could not say whether or not the issue had been addressed, as recommended in the report.

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