Fayette County

Third suit filed against Fayette Co. jail

A female corrections officer has filed a lawsuit against the Fayette County Detention Center alleging sex and race discrimination and retaliation by her supervisor.

It is the third lawsuit filed this year by a female corrections officer making allegations of retaliation, sexual discrimination or harassment by male employees.

In the complaint filed Wednesday, Tanya Newcomb says she filed a grievance with her union and a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after her supervisor, Capt. Dwight Hall, gave her an oral warning in 2006 that she thought was without merit.

As a result, the oral warning was removed from Newcomb's record. However, Newcomb alleges in the complaint that Hall then "arbitrarily and capriciously disciplined and transferred" her in retaliation for filing the grievance and complaint.

Newcomb, who is African-American, claims that she has been disciplined for infractions such as waiving a booking fee for an inmate, looking at a text message on her phone and eating chips and salsa at her desk — conduct for which other employees received either no discipline or less harsh sanctions.

The complaint says Hall, who is white, ''has taken a particular interest in causing her harm with respect to her employment because she is not submissive to him, because she has previously insulted him by contesting his meritless employment reprimand and because she is an African-American female.''

The complaint also says there is a "sexually hostile atmosphere at the DCC caused by relationships between male superior officers and lower-level female employees."

Jail officials referred questions Friday to Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry. Straub declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing pending legal action.

Newcomb's attorneys did not return phone calls.

Her lawsuit follows two others that, along with other jail documents, outline a series of allegations of sexual misconduct and other inappropriate behavior by male employees at the jail against female inmates and a corrections officer.

In one incident, a male corrections officer at the jail resigned in August after jail officials determined that he showed a cell phone photo of his penis to a female inmate, according to an internal affairs case summary report.

In a lawsuit filed last month, corrections officer Charlotte Trotter alleged that her supervisor, Major Michael Korb, sexually harassed her and that jail officials retaliated against her for reporting it.

In a lawsuit filed in January, corrections officer Doris Zirbes said she was stripped of her rank and placed on leave by jail Director Ron Bishop when she talked to Lexington police and Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson about problems at the jail.

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