A former employee of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections is alleging in a lawsuit that her male co-workers incessantly sexually harassed her, denied her a promotion based on a male employee’s supposed sexual interest, and trivialized the issue when she tried to tell supervisors.
The lawsuit filed on October 23 in Arizona U.S. District Court seeks damages from the state for alleged Civil Rights Act violations against Tiffany Hill, who worked as a youth corrections officer in Maricopa County from 2015 to 2017.
According to the complaint, male employees directed “virtually constant offensive sexual comments” toward Hill, including repeatedly referring to her as “tits,” and asking about her breast size, sometimes in front of inmates. It claims one male co-worker asked Hill for nude photographs.
The lawsuit also alleges a supervisor groundlessly denied Hill a promotion, saying a male employee working where she would have worked in the facility “wanted to fuck her.”
When Hill tried to complain, supervisors first ignored her, and then deemed her complaints unfounded, the lawsuit says. It also claims the state mishandled a situation in which an inmate assaulted Hill, failing to take steps to correct the problem or prosecute the aggressor.
In June 2017, Hill resigned “in fear of her physical safety.” Since then, the suit says, she’s dealt with mental and physical struggles including anxiety, depression, and loss of sleep.
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The juvenile corrections department declined to comment on pending legislation. The non-discrimination policy listed on its website commits the agency to upholding a discrimination-free environment.
Hill was also unable to provide comment on Thursday. Hill’s attorney, Stephen Montoya, called the case “outrageous and not surprising."
He said he thinks some of the worst cases of discriminatory harassment happen in the public sector, because only the public’s money is at stake, diffusing the responsibility.
“What a shame,” Montoya said. “We need to hold our government accountable. Someone must be held responsible for this misconduct.”