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Sexual harassment complaint; catalyst behind officer's dismissal

Four years ago, a former Colorado policewoman sued the city of Aspen, Colorado on the basis of wrongful termination. Now, her trial is finally scheduled. Her lawsuit results from the fact that there is debate over whether or not she was terminated for legitimate reasons, or on the basis of sexual discrimination.

The female officer was fired from her job on July 27, 2006. Records indicate that the catalyst behind her release was her use of a Taser on a homeless woman in June of that same year. The former officer states that the homeless woman had been caught attempting to shoplift from a local retail establishment and threatened her with a large stick, resulting in the need to Taser her.

Law enforcement administrators say that, in addition to her poor judgment that day, they fired her for her alleged lack of understanding of the values of the Aspen Police Department.

However, according to the lawsuit, a number of male officers had used questionable judgment and took actions that were outside the values of the police department but faced no retraining or disciplinary action of any kind.

The former officer believes that her termination was a retaliatory action from a complaint she filed with Aspen's human resource department. In her complaint, she alleges that she was sexually harassed. It is believed that the coincidence of her termination coupled with the discrepancy of disciplinary actions between herself and other [male] officers further prove that she was wrongly terminated.

Given these claims, it is possible that the female officer could have been dismissed in direct relation to her gender. Employment discrimination happens regularly, but is rarely publicized at this level. Many discrimination or harassment cases go completely unreported. Men and women who feel that they've been victimized by employment discrimination as a result of their sex may find relief in consulting with an attorney has experience in employment law.

Source: Aspen Daily News, "Trial set in former Aspen police officer's lawsuit against city," Chad Abraham, 07 July 2011

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