Derek Boyd claims retaliation after he reported jail nurses discussing their dislike of faggots
Collin County Detention Officer Derek Boyd, 23, has filed suit against the Collin County Sheriff’s office claiming discrimination and retaliation based on his sexual orientation.
Because the retaliation intensified after the lawsuit was served on Boyd’s immediate supervisor, Christopher Perepiczka, and Sheriff Terry Box, Boyd’s attorney, Kasey Krummel, has also filed a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a cease-and-desist order.
According to the lawsuit, on about March 19, Boyd heard two nurses who work at the county jail make discriminatory remarks about a male inmate with purple and pink hair. They allegedly said, among other comments, that the inmate should be “with the other faggots in pod D1.” The two nurses continued discussing their dislike of “faggots” in front of Boyd, the lawsuit alleges.
Boyd claims that after he told the nurses privately that their statements were offensive and inappropriate, one of them stopped making the comments, but the other called Boyd a faggot.
The next day, Boyd said he spoke to the Collin County jail’s head nurse. She said she’d advise nurses in the department to be careful of their statements on the job. But the nurse that called Boyd a faggot began to harass him in response to his complaint to her supervisor, he said.
Boyd said he called the head nurse’s office again, and she told him that the nurse couldn’t be replaced. The nurse then responded by escalating the situation.
In his lawsuit, Boyd accuses her of intentionally creating a hostile and unsafe environment in his pod “by deliberately disobeying safety orders, telling Officer
Boyd she does not have to listen to him, laughing at him, calling him derogatory names, and entirely undermining his authority in the presence of potentially violent or sexually aggressive inmates.”
The lawsuit says that Boyd waited almost a month before addressing the situation again, fearing things might get worse, but finally went to human resources with his complaint. Human Resources told Boyd they don’t handle complaints like that and refused to file a report.
On April 16, according to the lawsuit, Boyd filed an incident report with Perepiczka, the lieutenant on duty. Not only did he report the nurse’s use of abusive language toward him and several inmates and her undermining of his authority, he also noted that she refused to administer medication to one inmate.
Instead of taking any action against the nurse, Perepiczka began what Boyd describes as harassment for filing the complaint, the lawsuit claims.
On April 25, Boyd filed another incident report in which he said the nurse said, “they could not work with faggots.”
“I am a member of the LGBT community and these comments were offensive and I believe that the statements that they couldn’t work with ‘faggots’ was obviously directed at me,” he wrote in his incident report.
Boyd’s supervisor said because the nurses are not Sheriff’s Department employees, the complaint couldn’t be resolved, the lawsuit alleges. The retaliation against Boyd then became so severe that he was unable to perform his duties, he claims.
According to the lawsuit, when Boyd radioed from his pod for any assistance, his calls were ignored. It also charges that Perepiczka repeatedly told him there are civil and criminal penalties for filing a false report; and that when the nurse filed a complaint against Boyd, his supervisor refused to give him a copy and filed a complaint against Boyd himself.
The lawsuit also alleges that Perepiczka told Boyd that he went outside the chain of command by filing his incident reports and contacting the nursing supervisor without approval.
Since then, the lawsuit says, Boyd has been interrogated by the Professional Standards Section of the Sheriff’s Office regarding his complaints of discrimination and retaliation and was required to take a polygraph. When Boyd said he wanted his attorney present for the lie detector test, he says he was told he wasn’t entitled to a lawyer.
Dallas County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Melinda Urbino said an employee is always entitled to an attorney. When a DCSO employee files a grievance, a hearing is held. If a case comes up before the department’s disciplinary board, she said employees often have attorneys represent them.
Urbino also said she hadn’t heard of Dallas County Sheriff’s Department employees being required to take a polygraph other than as part of pre-employment screening. Those complaints are heard through the grievance process.
Boyd contends that had the complaint been racial, it would have been handled differently. An internal affairs division investigator agreed his complaint would have been taken seriously and handled differently, according to Boyd.
Boyd’s lawsuit contends the Collin County Sheriff created a hostile work environment for LGBT people and intentionally discriminates against employees based on sexual orientation. He alleges the sheriff’s office violates the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and charges that he was damaged by loss of professional stature, emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment and mental anguish as well as having his safety in the jail threatened.
Boyd wants the court to rule that his employers violated his civil rights and to rule that LGBT people are a protected class entitled to constitutional protections. Finally, he wants the court to order the defendants to assign him to a new position — deputy LGBT Liaison. Penalties would be assigned by the court.
Capt. Jim Moody, the CCSO’s public information officer said he could not comment on the case because it is under investigation.
The case was filed in federal court in Sherman and assigned to Judge Amos Mazzant, an Obama appointee.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2016.