ARTICLE ID 31875
$________ - SEX DISCRIMINATION AGAINST FEMALE POLICE OFFICER - SYSTEMATIC PATTERN OF DISCRIMINATION BY PORT AUTHORITY POLICE - COMMANDER CHARGED WITH MAKING UNTOWARD ADVANCES - JURY FINDS SEX DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT, NOT SEXUAL ASSAULT.
The third-party plaintiff/counter-claimant in this action, a 38-
year-old female officer with the Port Authority of N.Y and
N.J. police force, alleged that the Port Authority violated
her civil rights under federal law through a systematic pattern
of sexual discrimination, including inappropriate assignments,
unfounded departmental charges, a hostile work environment and
inadequate supervision of her superiors. Under a respondeat
superior theory, the claimant also alleged that a 54-year-old
Chief Inspector made improper advances upon her person and then
retaliated because she reported the incident. As a consequence,
the female police officer contended that she was treated
differently than her male counterparts and was subjected to
numerous instances of petty and annoying grievances that made her
professional duties difficult to perform. The female police
officer contended that these circumstances, taken as a whole,
showed that the Port Authority and its Chief Inspector
discriminated against her because she was a woman, in violation
of state and federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination. The
action originally began as a lawsuit brought by the Chief
Inspector against the female officer, charging her with malicious
prosecution and defamation for reporting the incident in which he
ran his hands along her back and sides while she was registering
a gun at the Port Authoritys police headquarters in Jersey City.
The Chief Inspectors action was dismissed on summary judgment as
an administrative proceeding, but the female officers counter-
claims for assault and battery and sexual harassment against the
inspector, and sexual discrimination and harassment against the
Port Authority, survived.
The female officer charged the Chief Inspector with assault and
battery for the way in which he placed his hands on her body and
breasts; without her consent, in the workplace, and in a manner that
was both personally and professionally offensive to her. The
inspector contended that he mistook her for another woman, that
he only touched her shoulder, and that her suit was baseless and
motivated by a desire to malign and defame his reputation on the
The female officer further contended that the Port Authority had
provided a work environment which fostered sex discrimination and
permitted the type of conduct displayed by the Chief Inspector.
The female officer testified to repeated incidents where she was
singled out for inappropriate assignments that male officers
would never receive unless they were partnered with her. She also
testified that she was asked personal questions when she called
in sick, that she had to put up with male locker room talk, profane
references to women, and sexual innuendoes from her peer
officers, and that the Port Authority either permitted this type
of conduct and conversation to persist, or simply looked the
The female officer also contended that she was
subjected to a series of deliberate annoyances such as posters
and T-shirts depicting female breasts with hands on them and
referencing the alleged assault and battery with mocking
indifference. The female officer contended these incidents, in
the aggregate, were directed at her because she was a woman and
wouldnt play by the male-dominated rules of the game.
The female officer maintained that the Chief Inspector was
often involved in these instances of sexual discrimination,
either in retaliation for her administrative charge of assault
and battery, or as part of his own discriminatory practices
against the female officer. The female officer contended that the
commander was responsible for signing departmental charges
against her which had no factual basis, such as a radio and
doorknob that were alleged to have disappeared during her shift.
The female officer also contended that she was once reprimanded
for not showing up at work, despite the fact that she had been
rescheduled and her absence was, therefore, expected. The female
officer further contended that she was given a permanent
assignment at one of the least desirable posts, the 42nd Street
Port Authority bus terminal in NYC, while less senior male
officers would receive more favorable assignments.
The defense maintained that the Port Authority did not endorse or
permit sexual discrimination and denied any pattern of conduct or
incidents that would give rise to the female officers
contentions. The Port Authority also contended that there was in
force a written policy against sexual discrimination and that
the counterclaims were brought because the female officer was not
promoted to detective and was thus trying to obtain undeserved
compensation. The Chief Inspector testified that the female
officer was not treated differently than her male counterparts
and that the assignments she received were doled out equally
among department officers. The commander also asserted that any
charges or negative actions taken against her were fully
justified by regulations governing Port Authority police work and
departmental standards of conduct. Further, the Chief Inspector
claimed that the incident that occurred between himself and the
female officer was a case of mistaken identity and that he never
was personally involved in the disciplinary proceedings against
the female officer.
The jury returned a verdict of no cause of action for the assault
and battery charge brought against the Chief Inspector. With
respect to sexual discrimination, the jury awarded the female
officer $________ for the inspectors violation of her civil rights
under state law, another $________ for his violation of her civil
rights under federal law, and $________ for the Port Authoritys
violation of her civil rights under federal law.
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