I received a phone call from one of our clients today. Seems the best EEO attorney in the state has taken the case of this employee and one other involved in her case. I worked with both of them initially, but it soon became apparent that, in light of the department's actions, and inaction, they required legal representation. For this attorney to take their cases, it is a guaranteed win for them, and other employees who are sexually harassed, intimidated, lied to, and otherwise made to suffer by a department more interested in covering its ass than following the law, much less its own policies.
Some pages and features of this website will not be available for awhile, as the website and those pages and features are reformatted. I apologize for the inconvenience. You may continue to contact me with your issues.
Don't get hurt on the job, or you will discover true pain, especially if you have to be out of work for an extended period of time. The state will terminate after six moths of leave without pay. Doesn't matter if you were permanently injured and disfigured by an inmate assault. Hell, they probably won't even charge the inmate with a crime, that is the track record. Watch the Arizona Republic for a story on the way injured staff are treated by the ADC and Risk Management. Yours truly has had a big hand in putting this article together, and may comment for the record in it.
Do you require representation for an industrial injury? Contact Stephen L. Weiss, Esq. for possible assistance! The Thunder receives NO compensation for referrals to Mr. Weiss.
Eight Arizona prison employees who were attacked by inmates and said they suffered debilitating injuries are suing the state, Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan and prison administrators over what they say are dangerous working conditions.
The eight employees, including one who said she was sexually assaulted by a convicted murderer, allege widespread safety problems in Arizona's prison system and an indifference by management to maintaining a safe work environment. The main problem, the suit alleges, is that there aren't enough correctional officers to adequately monitor prisoners.
The suit, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, seeks from the state "immediate and permanent changes that are desperately needed to alleviate the dangerous conditions," and compensatory damages.
The suit comes on the heels of the state paying a record $3 million to settle a different lawsuit filed by a former DOC teacher who was raped and beaten by an inmate two years ago. The settlement contained no admissions of wrongdoing.
Scott Zwillinger, who represented the teacher, is co-counsel in the latest suit. He said other Corrections Department employees approached him and lawyer Martin Bihn to handle the most recent suit because they feel DOC has repeatedly failed to protect its employees. For example, Zwillinger said, Corrections administrators are accused of ignoring requests to fix broken cell locks and broken lights, which the suit contends contributed to some of the assaults.
Andrew Wilder, a DOC spokesman, said the agency is reviewing the allegations. But he said safety remains the top concern for the agency.
"There are more than 7,000 corrections professionals who work inside Arizona state prisons each and every day. Their safety and security is the department's highest priority, and we take seriously all concerns," Wilder said.
He noted that in seven of the eight instances in which a plaintiff in the suit was injured, the department was able to identify the inmate responsible and sought prosecution.
Records: State pays $3 million to teacher raped in Arizona prison
The suit says four of the attacks occurred at Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis near Buckeye, two occurred at ASPC-Tucson and one each occurred at ASPC-Florence and ASPC-Yuma. Zwillinger said all of the employees were so badly injured they no longer can work, with some having serious head injuries.
Zwillinger said it was not enough for DOC to prosecute inmates after the attacks occurred. He said the state should provide sufficient funding to assure enough correctional officers for safe operation of the prisons.
Ryan, the Corrections director, has previously acknowledged his agency is understaffed and has said his office aggressively tries to recruit more correctional officers.
There currently is a 7.4 percent vacancy rate, with 496 unfilled correctional officer positions, according to DOC. The average salary for a correctional officer is $36,881.
Daniel Ruiz, a spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey, said the governor has told the Corrections Department to "review the complaint closely and take every action necessary to ensure the safety of the state’s correction officers and personnel."
However, the governor has not included additional funding in his state budget proposal to significantly raise the wages of correctional officers.