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Mediator called in to clean up Summit prison shower dispute

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Female prison guards and Summit County officials have agreed to bring in a mediator to help settle a long-running dispute over a county policy that forbids the women from guarding prisoners who are showering.

The guards claim the policy means they receive fewer raises and miss out on promotion opportunities.

One guard, Jacquetta Hawkins, cited the policy as the reason she was transferred from a more desirable shift in 2005, a move she describes as “a step backward in my career.” The county claims the policy has no effect on female guards’ pay and promotions.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights has intervened on behalf of the guards, labeling the case as one of great public interest. An August 2013 trial date has been pushed back two months to give the mediator more time to find common ground.

Note: It’s easy to assign employees to specific tasks out of habit or convenience. But if that practice has a disparate impact on a particular group, it pays to conduct a review to determine if another, less discriminatory path achieves the same goal.

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