Neb. CO's bias lawsuit settled for $777,000
5 officers contended that they were subject to taunts and discrimination due to being African American
By C1 Staff
LINCOLN — Corrections officers who sued for racial discrimination were granted a $777,000 settlement by the State Claims Board on Friday.
The Omaha reports that the five officers contended that they were subject to taunts and discrimination due to being African American.
Non-black staff referred to them as “the gang” or “the homeboys” and made comments like “it smells like fried chicken” and that the black officers must be happy today because watermelon was on the menu.
After reporting the harassment, the officers said they were retaliated against by being assigned more work or undesirable jobs. Even after two prison supervisors were disciplined, the hostility continued to the point where the officers were concerned that their white coworkers would not come to their assistance in a prison disturbance.
A judge dismissed the suit two years ago, calling the harassment nothing more than “simple teasing, offhand comments and isolated incidents.” The officers appealed this decision and in February reached a settlement.
In response to this suit, the Department of Corrections has hired someone to work on intercultural sensitivity. Diversity training manuals were also updated, and cultural awareness training was conducted for senior corrections staff and wardens.