2 guards allege gender bias in prison promotions

A male city correctional officer who averaged 35 sick days a year got promoted.

So did one who had been arrested for assault, drunk driving, drug offenses and burglary.

So when Renee Johnson and Jill Toomer, city correctional officers with a combined 39 years of prison experience, got passed over for promotion in 2002, they got angry.

Both filed complaints against the Philadelphia Prisons System with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, alleging racial and gender discrimination. They pleaded their cases yesterday before a hearing examiner at the commission’s Center City office.

A decision could take months.

“This is a classic disparate treatment case,” said commission attorney Ryan Hancock, adding that Johnson ranked 10th, and Toomer, 18th, out of 72 candidates who took a 2002 promotions test.

But City attorney Jeffrey First contended the women were passed over because of their “horrendous” sick leave and lateness records.

“It’s not fair to the taxpayers of Philadelphia to spend their money in that fashion,” First said.

The commission in May found that the prisons system fired Johnson in 2006 as punishment for filing her discrimination complaint. In that ruling, the commission ordered the prisons system to pay Johnson, who now works for the School District of Philadelphia, $81,154 in lost pay, plus interest.

Through testimony, Hancock showed that both women repeatedly earned “satisfactory” performance reviews and had not been disciplined for attendance or punctuality problems.

And another correctional officer promoted had been arrested multiple times and frequently missed work, Hancock said. That officer later was dismissed for sleeping with a female inmate, according to testimony.

“I thought: ‘What in the world could I have done that was worse than someone who was arrested all those times?'” testified Toomer, who eventually was promoted to correctional lieutenant in 2006.

First had an answer to that.

He and former Prisons Commissioner Thomas J. Costello told hearing examiner Phillip A. Ayers that both women had shoddy attendance records.

Johnson had 29 sick days and 15 tardies the year before she applied for promotion, First said.

Toomer frequently was tardy and absent; she acknowledged that she took extended leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for her two asthmatic daughters and adopt a foster child. A citywide sick-leave policy prohibits city employees from taking more than five undocumented sick days, First said.

Further, supervisors are role models to their subordinates and so should have exemplary attendance and punctuality, he added.

source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20090711_2_guards_allege_gender_bias_in_prison_promotions.html

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2 Responses to “2 guards allege gender bias in prison promotions”

  1. why are they still guards with arrest records

  2. cosgoingwrong Says:

    That is a good question.

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