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Correctional Officer Files Federal Lawsuit against Jefferson County Jail

MT. VERNON – A female correctional officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the Jefferson County Jail claiming discrimination and retaliation.

In her four-count civil rights complaint, Mary Jo Connaway claims a culture of harassment based upon her chronic suffering of migraine headaches and because she is a woman.

The complaint says Connaway started working for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department in 2007 but that in December 2018 the harassment began.

She says at that time newly elected Sheriff Jeff Bullard began denying previously offered accommodations for her migraine headaches and that mandated changes within the control room where she has been assigned to work almost exclusively for 12 to 16 hour shifts trigger or exacerbates her migraine headaches.

Connaway mentions Bullard is a good friend of her former live-in boyfriend and shortly after he was elected to office he asked her to call the man and help talk him out of suicide. She agreed and the former boyfriend did not commit suicide.

She says when she was later called into Bullard’s office for discipline, the sheriff told her he knows how “manipulative” she is and she’s not going to get away with it there.

The complaint goes on to note Connaway was disciplined for infractions on multiple occasions but when male coworkers committed the same or similar infractions they were not disciplined.

The case isn’t scheduled for court action again until June at the federal court in Benton.