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Former Arizona corrections workers to receive settlement in harassment case

FILE - In this July 23, 2014, file photo, a fence surrounds the state prison in Florence, Ariz., where the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood took place. One of two lawsuits against the state of Arizona over the secrecy around executions will get its day in court on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, as attorneys present oral arguments. The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of news organizations including The Associated Press after the July 2014 execution of Wood, who died nearly two hours after he was injected with a two-drug combination. (AP Photo/File)

PHOENIX — U.S. officials said a private prison company will pay a settlement of $550,000 to be shared by 16 women dismissed from jobs at Arizona correctional facilities in 2012 after complaining of sexual harassment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the deal Monday with the GEO Group, Inc., which operates the Central Arizona Correctional Facility and the Arizona State Prison-Florence West Facility.

The commission and the Arizona Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Office filed the suit alleging a variety of sexual harassment and retaliation at the two facilities from 2006-2012.

The misconduct included sexual assault by a male manager against a female officer that involved grabbing and pinching, and a male employee forcing a woman employee onto a desk. It also included numerous instances of verbal harassment such male officers asking female officers for sex.

The company said that it took measures after the lawsuit was filed, including enhanced training, reporting, and monitoring, and there had been no new complaints since.

“The GEO Group mandates zero tolerance towards all forms of sexual harassment in all its facilities,” it said in a Monday statement.

Under a similar consent decree announced in August, GEO Group paid $60,000 to a former female employee in Arizona who alleged sexual harassment and retaliation at the facility in Florence.

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