Kan. female prison worker files $75K discrimination lawsuit
The woman, who helped transport prisoners, accused the state of dismissing reports of discriminatory behavior and ultimately forcing her to seek another job
By Matti Gellman
The Kansas City Star
LANSING, Kan. — A woman who helped transport prisoners within the Lansing Correctional Facility alleges a Kansas Corrections supervisor unfairly bullied and humiliated her due to her sex for over a decade, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday.
Evangelina Pearson, who started working for the Kansas Department of Corrections in 2004, accused the state of dismissing reports of discriminatory behavior and ultimately forcing her to seek another job in a Kansas District Court retaliation lawsuit.
She said the Corrections Supervisor, Captain Perez, whose first name was not listed in the lawsuit, repeatedly tried to oversee and scrutinize her work although he was not within her chain of command.
The lawsuit petition alleged Perez “monitored Pearson more strictly than other male members of the Transportation Team.”
In one instance, he publicly berated her over the prison’s two-way radio system. In another, he told Human Resources Pearson would receive an unauthorized absence for attempting to file a discrimination complaint, according to court documents.
But she alleged that despite her efforts to report the harassment — little changed.
Pearson alleged the lack of response from Human Resources left her to apply for other positions in an effort to escape Perez’s abuse.
The subsequent role required Pearson, who is a single mother, to take more time away from her children, since many of her shifts were scheduled on weekends and holidays.
The Kansas Department of Corrections declined to comment on pending litigation.
‘Leave me ALONE’
Pearson joined the Transportation Team at the Lansing facility in 2009, in part so she would be able to work a schedule that allowed her to spend weekends and holidays with family, according to court documents.
About 12 years into her position, she received a reprimand from Perez. Although he did not serve as her supervisor, he alleged Pearson violated personnel policies related to professionalism, conduct and performance on Aug. 21, 2021, documents said.
That day, Pearson said Perez “sought to publicly humiliate her” by berating her over the prison’s radio system. Pearson believes he targeted her due to her sex, documents said.
An investigation into the incident did not interview or receive information from any witnesses, documents said. Yet, Pearson was still reprimanded. Pearson emailed corrections officials on Nov. 9, alleging that she had been treated differently than her male counterparts.
She sent another email on Dec. 2 to Human Resources in an effort to “seek equal treatment.” In that message, Pearson worried that her attempts to file a complaint would lead to retaliation.
By Feb. 23, 2022, Pearson alerted her supervisor to her intentions of filing a grievance against Perez. But as she spoke to Human Resources, Perez called to let her know that her efforts would result in an unauthorized absence.
Later that morning, Pearson sent out an email to corrections officials, including Perez, that read: “Captain Perez, you need to STOP! ... You need to LEAVE ME ALONE! ... You DO NOT OWN me as you like to believe! ... His constant harassment is causing me stress.”
No one responded or followed up to investigate, documents said.
Still, Pearson continued to try and file discrimination complaints against Perez. She said in a March 5 complaint that Perez had prohibited her from entering the Kansas prison “without any legitimate basis,” according to documents.
No one responded.
So, she applied for a position with Security Patrol that required her to work days over the weekend and certain holidays. In the new role, she was required to pay a fee to replace her badge, which she alleged male co-workers had previously not had to do.
Her most recent role at a minimum security facility also requires her to work certain holidays and days over the weekend.
The lawsuit is seeking $75,000 in damages.
Pearson’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.