Transgender California prison guard receives $500,000 to settle discrimination case

A transgender correctional officer has received a $500,000 settlement to end a lawsuit she filed against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in which she alleged her colleagues harassed her by calling her names and instructing her to comply with a male dress code.

As part of the settlement, Meghan Frederick agreed that she will not seek employment at a state prison in the future.

Frederick started working for state prisons in 2002 and began publicly identifying herself as a woman in 2012, she said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee in 2017.

She noticed that her colleagues at California State Prison Sacramento seemed to interfere with her soon after she began wearing a wig and earrings.

For instance, she said, she would spend up to five minutes waiting for guards to let her move through controlled gates inside the prison. She also alleged she was locked in stairwells.

She learned from colleagues that coworkers referred to her with derogatory names, such as “freak.” In April 2013, a sergeant attempted to force Frederick to comply with the prison’s dress code for male correctional officers. She had to show him her prison identification for him to relent, the lawsuit said.

Frederick through her attorney declined to comment on the settlement.

Her attorney, Robert Boucher, said Frederick felt “relieved of the burden of her lawsuit,” and at peace.

The corrections department in the settlement does not acknowledge wrongdoing and says it continues to deny Frederick’s claims in her lawsuit.

When she filed the case, Frederick was one of two California state correctional officers who publicly identified as transgender.

The department agreed to settle the case in August 2018 and the case was dismissed in November. The Bee obtained a copy of the agreement this week.

Boucher, who represented Frederick with Bohm Law Group, characterized the settlement as a victory for transgender correctional officers who fear harassment in the workplace.

“I think Meghan’s settlement is one more chink in the armor of gender identity discrimination and we’re that much closer to solving this issue,” he said.