In what may become a ground-breaking case, five women jail guards filed a sexual harassment suit against King County, WA, charging that prison officials there ignored inmates’ abusive behavior toward female corrections officials and contributed to a hostile work environment for women.
The plaintiffs allege that prison inmates displayed pornographic pictures, made sexually-driven insults, and made graphic threats of rape. They fault jail administrators for tolerating the inmates’ abuse and for encouraging women employees to “not take it personally” and “grow a thicker skin.”
Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University and an expert in sexual harassment law, said that this unique case might help to illustrate differences in the way men and women are treated in jobs traditionally held by men. The lawsuit seeks improved work conditions for all women employees in addition to monetary damages.