Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gloucester confidentially paid out $51,500 to settle Corrections Officer's gender and racial discrimination suit.

In a confidential settlement agreement that was only recently discovered, the County of Gloucester on March 30, 2012 agreed to pay $51,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by African-American, female Corrections Officer who claimed that her male coworkers would "grab each other's crotches" and that one specific coworker "plac[ed] a finger through the fly of his pants and pantomim[ed] that his penis had been exposed."

In her lawsuit, Malessia Lacy claimed that Sergeant Krulikowski (presumably Timothy Krulikowski) told her that he didn't think women should work as corrections officers and should instead "work in places like banks." Krulikowski also allegedly called her female coworker "a bitch" and used the word "spade" in a pejorative way.  Lacy claimed that Krulikowski, along with Corrections Officers Kirscher and Hahn (no first names given) would make sexually graphic comments about her such as "I'd let her put my d**k in her mouth" and "She can suck my b*lls."  She claimed that after she complained, she was retaliated against.

The case is captioned Lacy v. Gloucester County Department of Correctional Services, Superior Court Docket No. GLO-L-1142-11 and Lacy's attorney was Kevin M. Costello of Mount Laurel. Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of lawsuit's allegations have been proven or disproven in court.  Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any of the defendants.  All that is known for sure is that Gloucester or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Lacy $51,500 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases resolve before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.