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Case Name Teamsters Local Union No. 117 v. Washington State Department of Corrections PC-WA-0024
Docket / Court 3:11−cv−05760−BHS ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On September 21, 2011, the Teamsters Local Union, No. 117 ("Local 117") filed this lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington on behalf of the union members who worked for the Washington Department of Corrections. The plaintiff sued the Washington State Department of ... read more >
On September 21, 2011, the Teamsters Local Union, No. 117 ("Local 117") filed this lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington on behalf of the union members who worked for the Washington Department of Corrections. The plaintiff sued the Washington State Department of Corrections ("DOC") for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Sections 2000e, et seq. More than thirty days prior to the institution of this lawsuit, the plaintiff filed charges of unlawful discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that defendant violated Title VII. Local 117 is the exclusive certified bargaining representative of approximately 6,000 State employees employed by the DOC.

In July 2007, prior to the filing of this case, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of females inmates against DOC, alleging that certain staff had engaged in sexual misconduct ("the Jane Doe lawsuit"). The DOC responded to the Jane Doe lawsuit by conducting an investigation and hiring consultants to look at the issue. As a result of this investigation, the consultants hired by the DOC recommended increasing the number of female correctional officers in the women's correctional facilities. The consultants did not recommend decreasing the number of male correctional officers. The plaintiffs' experts in the Jane Doe case suggested that increasing the number of female correctional officers would limit the potential for sexual misconduct. Both the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, the Department of Justice, and the National Institute of Corrections Information Center recommended increasing overall staffing levels at women's correctional facilities in order to improve safety.

In May 2008, the DOC submitted a request to the Washington State Human Rights Commission ("WSHRC") to designate numerous existing correctional officer positions at several women's correctional facilities as female-only, asserting that gender is a bona fide occupational qualification ("BFOQ") for those positions. In February 2009, the WSHRC approved DOC's request to designate the requested positions as female-only, and upon receipt of those approvals, the DOC indicated to Locall 117 its intent to designate the positions as female-only and began recruiting and reassigning employees accordingly.

In this lawsuit, Local 117 alleged that DOC failed to undertake any individualized analysis of each position before designating approximately 110 positions as female-only, and they further alleged that many of these positions were improperly designated as female-only. Local 117 alleged that, as a result, male correctional officers were discriminated against, such as being forced to transfer to less desirable positions and being skipped-over on overtime opportunities. In addition, the female staff were required to work more overtime hours.

Further, following the designation of additional female-only positions, DOC employees reported that violence against staff by inmates had increased, as had violence between inmates. DOC employees believed that a lack of male staff presence in the female living units has emboldened violent offenders to act out.

Both sides moved for summary judgment. On April 8, 2013, Judge Settle granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and found the plaintiff's motion moot. 2013 WL 1412335 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 8, 2013).

On April 19, 2013, plaintiff appealed to the Ninth Circuit. On June 12, 2015, the Ninth Circuit filed an opinion affirming the trial court's decision. 789 F.3d 979 (9th Cir. 2015). The plaintiff filed petitions for rehearing en banc and panel rehearing, but the Ninth Circuit denied these petitions on August 5, 2015.

Rachel June-Graber - 10/20/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-area
Demotion
Hiring
Seniority
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Washington State Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description The plaintiff is the Teamsters Local Union No. 117, which is a labor organization based in King County, Washington. Local 117 is the exclusive certified bargaining representative of approximately 6,000 State employees employed by the Washington State Department of Corrections.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
3:11−cv−05760−BHS (W.D. Wash.) 06/23/2015
PC-WA-0024-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
13-35331 (U.S. Court of Appeals) 06/23/2015
PC-WA-0024-9001.pdf | Detail
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief 09/21/2011
PC-WA-0024-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Denying as Moot Intervenor's Motion for Summary Judgment 04/08/2013 (2013 WL 1412335) (W.D. Wash.)
PC-WA-0024-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
USCA Opinion 06/12/2015 (789 F.3d 979)
PC-WA-0024-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges McKeown, M. Margaret (Ninth Circuit)
PC-WA-0024-0001
Settle, Benjamin Hale (W.D. Wash.)
PC-WA-0024-0003 | PC-WA-0024-9000 | PC-WA-0024-9001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Iglitzin, Dmitri (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9001
Smith II, James Varro (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-0002
Swedlow, Daniel A. (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-0002 | PC-WA-0024-9000
Thal, Spencer Nathan (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-0002 | PC-WA-0024-9000 | PC-WA-0024-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Balson, Hank L. (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9000
Chupp, Nancy S. (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9000
Gonick, Peter B. (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9001
Hanson, Kari (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9000
Johnston, Stewart A. (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9000
Jordan Isley, Lori A. (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9000
Larsen, Kara Anne (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9000
Lee, Melissa R (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9000 | PC-WA-0024-9001
Lowy, Ohad M. (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9000 | PC-WA-0024-9001
Straley, Nicholas Broten (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9000 | PC-WA-0024-9001
Thornton, Gavin (Washington)
PC-WA-0024-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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