Jail administrators fired correctional officer for speaking out, lawsuit says

By Danielle Pacey | Sep 7, 2018

The St. Louis Medium Security Correctional Institution is known as the "Workhouse."  

ST. LOUIS –– A former captain with the St. Louis Corrections Division accuses jail administrators of firing him for speaking out about poor conditions in the jail.

Melvin Diggs filed the complaint on Aug. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri against the city of St. Louis and five officials, alleging violations of his First Amendment rights, the Family and Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the complaint, Diggs frequently objected to conditions at the St. Louis Medium Security Correctional Institution, known as the "Workhouse." Diggs attempted to address health and environmental problems inside the jail as well as potential violence that put officers and inmates at risk. 

But Diggs says his outspokenness led to administrators failing to submit his paperwork to take leave, pay decreases and unfair workplace infractions. 

In July 2017, two days taking leave for depression, Diggs claims Tonya Harry, director of security for the jail, informed him of a suspension. At a Civil Service Commission hearing months later, Diggs learned Dale Glass, commissioner of the division of corrections, accused him of threatening to "shoot up the place." Despite numerous employees vouching for Diggs, he was fired in January.

Diggs believes the administrators combined forces to deliberately cause him harm.

Diggs worked for the company since 1989. The complaint details numerous promotions, awards and excellent reviews during his tenure. He was less than two years away from retirement when he was  terminated.

Diggs seeks to recover damages for financial distress, loss of income, harm to his reputation and emotional distress.

He is represented by Elad Gross in St. Louis.

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