Lawsuit: Former Leavenworth prison guard filed complaints, threatened with dead rat

The Leavenworth Detention Center.
The Leavenworth Detention Center.

A former corrections officer at a privately run prison in Leavenworth has filed suit saying that he was the victim of threats and intimidation after being labeled a snitch and a rat by his co-workers.

The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court, alleges that Michael G. Baldwin was also retaliated against by officials at the CoreCivic facility after reporting wage and compensation concerns to the Department of Labor.

Baldwin went on leave and was ultimately discharged from his job.

CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service to house pretrial federal detainees.

Baldwin started working as a corrections officer in 2009. In 2013, he filed an internal grievance about wage and benefits issues.

As a result, the suit contends he was moved to a less desirable position.

In 2014, he took those wage concerns to the Department of Labor. He was subsequently denied promotion.

In 2015, the Department of Labor fined CoreCivic “several hundred thousand dollars” after investigating Baldwin’s complaint.

The same day the ruling came down, the warden “berated” Baldwin in front of other employees and told them the facility might close if there were more complaints, the suit alleges.

His co-workers began calling Baldwin a rat, and new employees were told not to trust him, according to the suit.

In 2016, he reported that another employee was stealing equipment. And when other employees learned what he had done, the threats increased.

Baldwin was allegedly warned not to go to a company holiday party because “snitches end up in ditches.”

At one point, a dead rat was left on the roof of his vehicle, and he learned that his co-workers had offered $100 to any prisoner who “shanked” Baldwin, the suit maintains.

Baldwin feared for his life and went on leave for anxiety, according to the lawsuit.

A few months later, in March 2017, he was “constructively discharged” from his job.

The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

CoreCivic is also facing several other cases.

The company is the focus of ongoing legal action over the taping of phone calls between prisoners and their lawyers and allegations that they were shared with prosecutors.

That case arose out of another case involving contraband being smuggled into the facility that resulted in criminal charges being filed against several people.

Baldwin’s suit is the second filed this week against CoreCivic by a former employee.

Leslie West, a unit manager, alleges in her federal lawsuit that her complaints about understaffing that risked the safety of employees and inmates led to her being fired.

She was also forced to take a polygraph test during the contraband smuggling investigation, which, the suit contends, was a violation of federal labor law.

Officials with CoreCivic said Thursday they do not comment on pending litigation.