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Rampant with retaliation: Bureau of Prisons faces lawsuits

They help secure our communities. The 35,000 people that work in our federal prisons face violence from inmates every day at work. Hoping to provide us all with more secure communities, these people help keep over 214,000 inmates off our streets. Aside from the violence and harassment they face from inmates, the workers of the Federal Bureau of Prisons are facing a systemic problem of workplace retaliation.

Late last month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Office of Federal Operations called the problem of retaliation in the BOP "widespread," with 73.7 percent of complaints involving allegations of retaliatory actions. As a result, some employees of the BOP have filed lawsuits, which were turned into a class action lawsuit against the Department of Justice. One of the attorneys involved in the case says that over 2,000 employees have asked to be included in the lawsuit.

The employees are seeking to change the behavior exhibited by management at the BOP. Some employees say they complain and are immediately punished for complaining. The people suing the agency say that there needs to be change from the top and management needs to hire outside people to get the agency back on track.

According to an article in Forbes, all the directors of the BOP have been internally promoted since 1964, limiting the ability for change within the agency, since no fresh perspectives can be interjected. It is likely to be a long battle since the EEOC is understaffed, but employees deserve to work in a place where they feel safe reporting actions to their managers without fear of retaliation.

Source: Forbes, "Retaliation In The Work Place? Allegations Within The Bureau of Prisons," Walter Pavlo, Dec. 6, 2011

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