Probation officer sues dept of corrections for discrimination

- The Michigan Department of Corrections faces another discrimination lawsuit as a probation officer says she's the target of a racist supervisor and an anonymous bully, all because she's black.

Lisa Griffey had no illusions when she took a job with the Michigan Department of Corrections that her professional life would be stressful.

"That's pretty much par for the course with being a probation agent," she said.

But nothing could have prepared her for her last two years on the job.

"It's very, very stressful," she said. "Very hard on me. Hard on my family."

She says the harassment she experienced at her office in Lapeer has caused her health problems - and it started immediately.

"My supervisor when going around asking what people wanted for lunch, he asked if I want chitterlings on my pizza," Griffey said.

She began getting derogatory, racist comments from her coworkers. In a building of 200, she says she was the only African-American person there.

"I was referred to as the black one," she said "I was called 'mammy' one day when I came into the office one of my coworkers said, 'morning mammy.'"

She claims to have filed eight complaints with her supervisors. all falling on deaf ears.

"He had no idea that 'mammy' was a racist term that's derogatory towards black women," she said.

So she filed something else, a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections.  Her attorney says this goes way beyond an isolated case in Genesee County.
Jon Marko says in his eight years with the firm, he's personally handled nearly a dozen racism lawsuits just like this saying this is a culture problem deep within the Department of Corrections and unless something real is done about it we'll all being paying for it.

"No matter how much money that I've seen juries award, it doesn't change, it doesn't stop," Marko said.

Marko says in prior cases the department makes no attempts to try and correct this alleged behavior.

"A high level supervisor for the Department of Corrections, I asked him what is an African-American supposed to do if they are discriminated against in the MDOC," Marko said. "You know what he said to me, he said 'They should shut up and go back to work.'"

He says it took some guts for his client to come forward. Her husband, named in the suit, is a deputy warden in the department and the harassment started after he was promoted and his wife transferred to Lapeer to be closer to home.

"I just believe that people were not happy that I was there," Griffey said. "And they just reacted however they wanted to."

The MDOC told FOX 2 they haven't received the suit which was filed on Monday, but don't comment on lawsuits either way.

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