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story.lead_photo.caption In this Sept. 15, 2004 file photo, prisoners await placement in the Jefferson City Correctional Center, operated by the Missouri Department of Corrections. They had been transferred from the Missouri State Penitentary, which closed that year. Photo by News Tribune / News Tribune.

A lieutenant at Jefferson City Correctional Center has filed an employment discrimination suit against the Missouri Department of Corrections, claiming he was discriminated against because of his age and that the department's director retaliated against him.

Robert Alderman, 52, of Jefferson City, filed a charge of discrimination against the department in May 2018 with the Missouri Human Rights Commission. In December 2018, the commission issued a notice of right to sue for Alderman, whose lawyer, David Lunceford, of Lee's Summit, said his client has exhausted all administrative procedures prior to filing this suit in accordance with the law.

The Missouri Attorney General's Office, which handles civil cases for the DOC, said they do not comment on pending litigation.

Alderman has been employed with DOC for more than 28 years and currently works at JCCC, according to the lawsuit.

In November 2017, Alderman was called into a meeting with DOC Director Ann Precythe and Adult Institutions Director Alana Boyles, the lawsuit claims. Prior to the meeting, Alderman had written a letter to a state representative with a complaint about Precythe.

Alderman said he wrote Precythe had told employees there was a court-ordered smoking ban when there was no real order.

In December 2017, after a victory in a federal court case brought about by a DOC inmate who suffered health effects from secondhand smoke, the department announced it would ban smoking except in designated smoking areas around prisons starting in April 2018.

During his meeting with Precythe, Alderman claims, Precythe said he "probably wouldn't make it" to his retirement, which at the time was about six months away. He also claims Precythe and Boyles told him, "People like you lose lawsuits."

Following his meeting, Alderman said, he returned to work and his supervisor at the central office had contacted them and told them Alderman was now considered "a troublemaker."

Alderman said he submitted a complaint of discrimination and retaliation and was interviewed by an investigator from the DOC Civil Rights Unit, but he claims he was never provided with a suggested resolution or even acknowledgment of his complaint.

In June, the lawsuit says, all captains and lieutenants — which would include Alderman — will be "forced to rotate off-shift," something Alderman claims would change his hours and make it nearly impossible to plan for things outside of work. He said the majority of the captains and lieutenants are older employees, which he believes further demonstrates his claim of age discrimination by the DOC.

Alderman is asking for a jury trial and that he be awarded compensation for lost wages and benefits.