Correction’s Santiam Correctional Institution a combined $1 million in a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination and retribution for whistleblowing.
Russell Rice and Larry Lytle, who are white, were managers at the facility and alleged that superintendent Frank Thompson, who is black, gave preferential treatment to other black employees.
The jury deliberated for one day last week after a seven-day trial and awarded Rice $350,000 in economic damages and $250,000 for non-economic damages. Lytle was awarded $150,000 in economic damages and $250,000 for non-economic damages.
Rice, now 59, and Lytle, now 55, held management positions before they were terminated in 2004. Rice was operations manager of the prison and Lytle was an inmate work supervisor.
They claimed the firings were without basis and were retaliatory for their complaining to other prison officials about what they said was Thompson’s race-based treatment toward employees, plaintiff attorney Bill Brandt said.
According to court records, Rice alleged that Thompson forced him to retire in March 2004, but continued as a temporary worker until fired by Thompson in April.
Lytle voluntarily retired in March 2004, but worked part-time until Thompson fired him that month.