A former correctional officer at the county jail has filed a civil lawsuit against Cornell Corrections, claiming she was the victim of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation.
Terreanne Julian, who worked for the local jail until May 2001, filed the lawsuit last week, naming Cornell Corrections of Texas Inc. and Associate Warden Anthony Romero as defendants.
Paul Doucette, Cornell’s public relations officer, said Tuesday he wasn’t aware that the lawsuit had been filed.
“Since we haven’t seen the lawsuit, we can’t comment on it,” Doucette said. “But, as a general rule, we try very hard to follow and abide by the law, and that’s a matter of policy.”
Julian worked as a guard for the Valencia County Adult Detention Center since 1993 and continued her employment with Cornell when it took over the new facility in October 2000.
According to the complaint, Julian was employed as a sergeant with the county, but, when Cornell took over the operations, the position didn’t employ anyone of that particular rank.
Julian alleges that two other male officers who held the same rank were promoted by the company and given a pay increase. “Julian, the only woman sergeant, received neither,” the lawsuit says.
Julian also claims that training videos provided by Cornell portrayed women as “weak and unprofessional.”
The former correctional officer claims she was placed in dangerous situations by the company by assigning her to work alone in the female pod for 12-hour shifts. “Other shifts and other pods all had at least two personnel in the pod at all times,” the complaint alleges.
The lawsuit also claims Julian was subjected to sexual harassment beginning during training until she was “constructively discharged” last May.
Julian claims that, during her training course, an instructor told her, “If you want to pass, meet me at room (B__) at the Micro Motel.
“(Julian) reported this incident to Larry Garcia, who was the liaison between county commissioners and Cornell,” the lawsuit says. Garcia reportedly told Julian to keep a log and write these kinds of things down.
Julian reportedly did start a log, but she claims it disappeared from her desk at work. She also claims one supervisor physically harassed her by patting her buttocks at least three times.
She protested each time and finally complained to her superior, the complaint says. He also reportedly told her to keep documentation of the incidents, but she alleges the log was again taken from her desk.
“Another superior used to make a motion as though he were undoing his belt while commenting that she was lucky there was a camera on them,” the complaint alleges. “He repeatedly propositioned (Julian) to ‘flash’ him.”
Julian also claims a co-worker pushed up against her and kissed her. She said she pushed him away and went immediately to her supervisor.
According to the complaint, the supervisor told her he didn’t want to get involved and that she should report it to a different supervisor. Julian claims the actions of her former co-workers and supervisors at Cornell deprived her of her constitutional rights to be free of sexual discrimination and harassment.
The complaint also alleges that, subsequent to Julian’s complaints of sexual harassment, Cornell unlawfully retaliated against her. The lawsuit claims some of the retaliation included security employees being directed to check her bag every morning, verbally abusing her, forced overtime and unjust reprimands.
Julian is asking the court to award compensatory and punitive damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, training and supervision.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.