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Correctional officers were fired and claimed retaliation
United States District Court, Northern District, Dallas
arterial/vascular-hypertension; mental/psychological-insomnia; mental/psychological-emotional distress
Civil Rights – Title VII; Employment – Retaliation, Wages and Hours, Workplace Harassment, Wrongful Termination; Discrimination – Age Discrimination; Employment – Hostile Work Environment
Chris Stevenson and Marion Dahn v. LaSalle Corrections Transport LLC, LaSalle Management Company LLC, and Southwestern Correctional LLC,
November 6, 2014
Marion Dahn (Male, 65 Years),
Chris Stevenson (Male, 43 Years)
Andrea S. Loveless;
Loveless Law Firm LLP;
Marion Dahn, Chris Stevenson
Southwestern Correctional LLC,
LaSalle Management Company LLC,
LaSalle Corrections Transport LLC
The Myers Law Group;
Southwestern Correctional LLC ■ Janice S. Parker;
The Myers Law Group;
Southwestern Correctional LLC ■ Angella Hebert Myers;
The Myers Law Group;
Southwestern Correctional LLC
On April 4 and May 14, 2012, respectively, plaintiffs Marion Dahn, 65, and Chris Stevenson, 43, both correctional officers at Johnson County jail, were fired. The jail was operated by Southwestern Correctional LLC, which the plaintiffs claimed was both a subsidiary of LaSalle Management Co. LLC and an affiliate of LaSalle Corrections Transport LLC. Southwestern had taken over operation of the jail in 2010. At that time, the plaintiffs had already worked at the jail for at least 10 years. Stevenson and Dahn sued Southwestern under state and federal law, including Title VII, the ADEA, and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, for age discrimination and retaliation. Dahn also sued Southwestern under the ADEA for hostile work environment. Both plaintiffs also sued under the FLSA for unpaid overtime and for retaliation for complaining about unpaid overtime. The plaintiffs initially alleged numerous other claims, but they were dismissed before trial. The plaintiffs also sued the LaSalle entities, but dismissed them in September 2013. Stevenson claimed that, in early 2011, he had filed a report with the sheriff’s office alleging that his supervisor, Mike Milsap, sexually harassed a female officer. Stevenson claimed that Milsap then retaliated against him with a pattern of verbal harassment and writing up Stevenson every chance he could get. Stevenson also claimed that Milsap took him off transport duty, resulting in a significant decrease in Stevenson’s income. Stevenson further claimed that, eventually, Milsap intentionally assigned him a terrible partner who was bound to get him fired. (Stevenson and his partner were fired after a detainee in their charge escaped into Mexico.) Milsap was also Dahn’s supervisor. Dahn claimed that Milsap called him disrespectful names in front the prisoners and permitted others to do so, potentially putting Dahn at risk with prisoners. Dahn also claimed that Milsap assigned him to be on-call on the weekends (an unpaid duty) twice as often as other correctional officers. The defense denied the allegations and contended that the plaintiffs were fired for legitimate, nondiscriminatory, non-retaliatory reasons. Regarding Dahn, the defense maintained that he was fired for having an inappropriate relationship with an inmate and for numerous complaints that were under investigation, such as sleeping on the job. Regarding Stevenson, the defense argued that he was fired solely for allowing a detainee to escape. The defense further argued that the woman he claimed was sexually harassed told him that Milsap had not harassed her. The defense also denied that Stevenson reported sexual harassment. The defense also argued that Stevenson failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. On the overtime issue, the defense contended that the plaintiffs were paid appropriately for all hours worked and/or reported and that they received overtime pay on a large percentage of their paychecks.
Both plaintiffs claimed that being harassed and fired caused pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life, as well as loss of wages and benefits. Stevenson claimed that the decrease in income, including the decrease that resulted from being taken off transport duty, caused his marriage to suffer and eventually fail. Stevenson sought past lost wages and benefits, past and future compensatory damages and punitive damages. Dahn also claimed that, at his age, it was nearly impossible to find other work, and he was forced to take early retirement. He also claimed that his blood pressure went up and that he had trouble sleeping. Dahn sought past lost wages and benefits, past and future compensatory damages, and punitive damages. The defense contended that Stevenson’s marriage was in trouble before the incidents made the basis of this suit and that the divorce was unrelated to his job.
The jury found no age discrimination against either plaintiff, but did find that Southwestern willfully retaliated against Stevenson for reporting a sexual harassment claim and that Southwestern harassed Dahn on the basis of his age and created a hostile work environment. The jury awarded the plaintiffs a total of $795,321. The jury did not find any unpaid overtime, did not find that the plaintiffs were retaliated against for complaining about overtime issues, and did not find that Stevenson was retaliated against for complaining of age discrimination.
Marion Dahn: $72,846 Personal Injury: Past Lost Earnings Capability; $50,000 Personal Injury: past compensatory damages; $100,000 Personal Injury: future compensatory damages; Chris Stevenson: $500,000 Personal Injury: Punitive Exemplary Damages; $47,475 Personal Injury: Past Lost Earnings Capability; $25,000 Personal Injury: past compensatory damages
David C. Godbey
3 male/ 4 female
The plaintiffs moved for an award of liquidated damages and attorney fees under Title VII and the ADEA. Southwestern moved for JMOL. The motions are pending.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ and defense counsel.