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Guard at Maine State Prison settles discrimination suit for nearly $400,000

Autumn Dinsmore, a former guard at Maine State Prison and Bolduc Correctional Facility, settled her suit for $400,000.
Credit: Micha? Chodyra
Photo: Thinkstock

WARREN, Maine — A female guard at the Maine State Prison and Bolduc Correctional Facility has settled a sex discrimination suit filed against the Maine Department of Corrections for nearly $400,000.

Autumn Dinsmore of Rockland will receive $235,000 and Augusta law firm Johnson & Webbert, which represented her, will receive $160,000, the Courier Gazette reported Tuesday.

Dinsmore also named MSP Correctional Capt. Joel Parsons and former Dale Tobey, a former sergeant at Bolduc, in the suit.

Dinsmore filed the suit in July 2021, claiming the department created a hostile and "abusive" work environment that included "severe and pervasive" practices that stem from "an institutional mindset" among male guards and administrators that women should not work as guards there. In part, the suit alleged offensive comments about women seeking relationships, unwanted sexual overtures from male officers, including sending unsolicited sexual photos.

According to the suit, Dinsmore, who is gay, was subjected to homophobic jokes and slurs.

"Her sexual orientation was questioned numerous times. But at the same time she was subject to harassment by her male coworkers, by male supervisors, who treated her a sexual object and somebody that they wanted to have sex with," said Shelby Leighton, a former attorney for Dinsmore, told NEWS CENTER Maine in July 2021.

In January 2021, the Maine Human Rights Commission found reasonable grounds to believe the MDOC had created a hostile work environment and discriminated against Dinsmore on the basis of sex by subjecting her to disparate treatment.

An investigator for MHRC found that "Respondent (Department of Corrections) knew or should have known about the harassment, and did nothing to stop it; instead, Respondent contributed to the hostile environment by disciplining (Dinsmore) more harshly than her male coworkers."

But as of July 2021, the harassment had continued, the suit contended.

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