A former female officer at a correctional facility has filed a lawsuit alleging discriminatory employment conduct and practices and unbearable and hostile working conditions.

Ashley Menchaca filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections in U.S. District Court in March. The complaint alleges four counts under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act including race/gender discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliation. Menchaca, who is Hispanic and openly gay, began working at the Woodland Center Facility in Whitmore Lake in January of 2016 and resigned last May. The facility currently houses prisoners experiencing a serious mental health crisis. Menchaca’s complaint alleges that issues started when she was transferred to the evening shift in December of 2016 and cites various instances of harassing conduct and inappropriate comments from supervisors and co-workers. The lawsuit seeks damages in the amount of $9,999,000.

The MDOC has denied that any discriminatory conduct or practices occurred. It filed a motion this month to seeking to dismiss the count related to sexual orientation, saying the protections under Title VII do not extend to an individual’s sexual orientation. Court records show that motion will be determined by District Judge Terrence G. Berg without oral argument. A status conference in the case is scheduled in May. (JM)