NJ prison worker says her nude photos were shared as retaliation
A female employee at a South Jersey prison claims colleagues shared naked photos of her and left anonymous threatening notes after she cooperated with an investigation into another female coworker's sexual harassment complaint.
Melanie Wilson, a Millville resident who was hired as a communications officer at Bayside State President in 2000, is suing the state Department of Corrections and five superior officers in federal court. Her lawsuit claims she faced retaliation and harassment as a result of cooperating with the investigation into a superior.
A spokesman for the Department of Corrections declined to comment because this is an ongoing legal matter.
Wilson said the harassment started after she spoke to investigators in March 2014.
Unknown people left notes on her work station calling her a "snitch" and warning her "you'll get yours," she claims.
In August she says she received interoffice mail warning: "NEVER RAT ON YOUR FRIENDS AND ALWAYS KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT." A month later she received a pink envelope to "Operator Snitch."
The lawsuit says someone mailed naked photos of her and notes to a superior officer at home and another superior at the office. Wilson said she was ordered to respond to the mailings but was never shown the photos or the note.
Her attorney, John H. Sanders II, of the Shrewsbury firm Shebell & Shebell, said last week that his client still hasn't seen the photos in question.
The extent of the alleged retaliation included reprimanding her for "chronic or excessive absenteeism" for her family leave that officials "improperly categorized" as sick time.
Last year she "suffered a stroke as a result of the extreme and prolonged stress caused by the hostile work environment" and claims officials denied her request to cover her time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages for claims under the state Law Against Discrimination and Wage and Hour Law, and the federal Civil Rights Act and Family Medical Leave Act.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.