Following two lawsuits and confronted with a wealth of information alleging rampant sexual abuse of female inmates in its facilities, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) enacted a policy to assign only female corrections officers to housing units and transportation duties in women's prisons. This decision represented MDOC's effort to curb the systemic and persistent sexual abuse of female inmates by male guards. A group of MDOC employees, both male and female, sued alleging violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), and Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (the "Elliott-Larsen Act"). Following a bench trial, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that gender was not a bona fide occupational qualification ("BFOQ") for the positions in question and struck down the policy. In Everson v. Michigan Department of Corrections, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the judgment of the District Court and upheld MDOC's policy, finding that gender was a BFOQ for the positions in question. The court based its decision on the safety, security, and privacy interests of the inmates. Everson raises significant gender and sexuality issues.
Ashlie E. Case,
Conflicting Feminisms and the Rights of Women Prisoners,
Yale J.L. & Feminism
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjlf/vol17/iss1/14