Couple sues York County Prison over alleged discrimination

Written by Rachel McDevitt, All Things Considered Host | Jan 9, 2019 1:09 PM

The York County prison work-release facility on Concord Road in Springettsbury Township.(Photo: Kate Penn/York Daily Record/Sunday News)

(Harrisburg) -- Two African-American corrections officers allege they've been subject to racial discrimination and harassment working at the York County Prison.

Iris Chambers and Lamar DeShields, a married couple, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the institution. They claim the derogatory behavior stretches back at least five years.

They allege they've been treated differently in employment conditions and disciplinary actions because of their skin color, saying they've received harassing comments about eating watermelon and fried chicken.

"Ms. Chambers alleges that at one point a co-worker, correctional guard, had locked her in a unsafe location in the prison where she would not have been able to get out if there was a problem with prisoner safety," said the couple's attorney Brian Mildenberg.

Mildenberg said they previously filed complaints internally and with the state Human Relations Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

He said those avenues did not lead to relief.

"The plaintiffs are seeking the court's intervention to stop the discriminatory practices so that they can work in peace and without racial discrimination. Also, an order requiring remedy of the conditions," Mildenberg said.

They're also seeking monetary damages.

Mildenberg added the couple is concerned over how minority employees are treated as well as how discriminatory practices could be affecting inmates. 

A York County spokesman would not comment on pending litigation.

He noted the county has an existing Equal Employment Opportunity Plan.

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