By Robert Boczkiewicz Bent County Democrat
DENVER -- A nurse who worked at the Las Animas prison alleges she lost her job as retaliation for her complaints of discrimination and complaints about the quality of patient care there.
Dannette Karapetian's allegations are in a lawsuit based on federal anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws. The case is in Denver at the U.S. District Court for Colorado.
In court filings, the operator of the privately owned Bent County Correctional Facility denies her allegations. The operator, CoreCivic Inc., contends Karapetian was removed from the work schedule for legitimate reasons.
The Bent County Democrat and its sister newspapers reviewed a court filing that states both sides of the dispute.
The nurse alleges a supervisor began in 2018 discriminating against her because the supervisor "was disgusted and upset" that Karapetian had competed 25 years earlier in a bikini modeling contest.
Around the same time, the nurse "began expressing concerns (to another supervisor) about the quality of patient care the inmates were receiving," the filing states.
It goes on to say that a supervisor created "a hostile work environment" and the nurse began making a series of formal complaints within the company about it.
In its side of the dispute, CoreCivic contends in a court filing that Karapetian "was counseled or coached regarding performance and behavior issues," including "undermining/interfering with correctional officers managing inmates, inappropriately disclosing confidential information," and being "inappropriately familiar" with an inmate.
The nurse contends she "was never 'counseled'"
The company further contends the nurse was removed from the work schedule later in 2018 because her nursing license had expired, a reason which the nurse took issue with in her lawsuit.
Karapetian wants a jury to decide she is entitled to lost wages and other money from the company for various reasons to compensate her for what allegedly happened.
The case is in an early stage of pre-trial activity between both sides.