Columbia Man Sues Over Corrections Job Denial

April 29, 1992|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff writer

A Columbia man has filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services claiming that he was unfairly denied a job as a prison guard.

Marvin Fields, 36, of the 5400 block of Cedar Lane, applied for a job as a state corrections officer inNovember 1990. He claims that he scored 92 of a possible 100 on an employment test and was notified that he was eligible for consideration when a vacancy occurred.

Fields is seeking damages of between $10,000 and $15,000, the wages he would have earned since November 1991 if he had been working asa prison guard.

According to the suit, corrections officials toldFields in June 1991 that he wasn't selected for a guard position because of a poor work history. The corrections department based the decision on the fact that Fields had been fired from a Maryland NationalBank job in January 1991 because of lateness, the suit states.

Asa U.S. Army veteran, Fields is entitled by law to a review of the corrections department decision by the state Department of Personnel, the suit states.

A review of the decision by Edward V. Tildon, director of legislative and policy services with the Department of Personnel, concluded that corrections officials' reasons for not hiring Fields were insufficient. In light of the decision, the lawsuit states, the corrections department is obligated to hire Fields for the position.

Despite the finding in his favor, the corrections department has not contacted Fields about the guard position.

"Now we're caught in this bureaucratic quagmire of getting a favorable decision and nothing happening," said Thomas M. Meachum, Fields' lawyer. "He just wants a chance to show that he can do the job."

According to the lawsuit, John G. Sybert, director of the Division of Personnel of the corrections department, said that the department intended to appeal the decision because further background investigation of Fields revealed that he was unsuitable for the position. However, Meachum said thatFields could find no record of an appeal being filed with the Officeof Administrative Hearings.

The lawsuit requests a court order directing the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to give Fields a pre-employment physical examination and hire him if he passes it.

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