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Friday, July 11, 2014

Former jailer alleges gender discrimination in firing

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A former jailer is suing Bedford County for gender discrimination, claiming she was fired for the escape of a male prisoner earlier this year, while a relative of the sheriff kept his job.

Virginia Lynn Hall, a correctional officer hired by the county in 2001, filed the suit Tuesday in Bedford County Chancery Court, and is demanding unspecified damages for loss of earnings, front pay compensation or reinstatement, compensatory damages for mental distress, emotional anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment, attorney fees, prejudgment interest, a trial by jury and "other and further relief."

Suit claims

Hall, who was at the rank of sergeant at the time she was fired, says that her supervisor, Capt. Jerry Sircy, told her that Chief Deputy David Williams Jr. had made the decision to terminate her because a male inmate had escaped on Aug. 11, and that she performed her block checks too quickly.

Andrew Phillip Marshall, 19, had escaped from the jail during the night shift, when Hall was working, by using a jail-issued razor as a makeshift screwdriver to unscrew a light fixture and crawl out of the facility through the ceiling.

According to the suit, Sheriff Randall Boyce admitted that the county did not know that escape was possible through the ceiling in the way Marshall departed.

Watched the women

Marshall had been given the razor by the day shift jailers, which should have been recollected by that shift's employees, the suit says, also pointing out that the day shift employees responsible for this task were male.

The suit claims that at the time of Marshall's escape, Hall was in charge of checking on female inmates, while Clyde Boyce, a relative of the sheriff, was in charge of checking the men.

Hall claims that Clyde Boyce "performed his block checks more quickly than plaintiff but was not terminated."

Prior escape

Also, Marshall had fled the county workhouse a month prior to the escape that cost Hall her job, and the guard in charge of the workhouse when that occurred, identified as a Sgt. Mullins, did not lose his job, nor was he disciplined for the prior escape, the suit claims.

Sheriff's department records in the T-G files indicate Marshall had actually fled a county trash pickup crew working on Himesville Road, rather than from the workhouse itself.

Hall further claims that her firing "came under circumstances that gave rise to an inference of gender discrimination," and that the county treated men more favorably than she was.

The suit also claims that Hall was "satisfactorily performing the functions of her job at the time of her termination."

County attorney John T. Bobo told the T-G Wednesday they have reviewed the litigation and passed it along to the county's insurance carrier for defense.

Hall is represented in the suit by Murfreesboro attorney Kerry Knox.