A former Roseville police officer is claiming sex discrimination in a federal lawsuit, saying that she was fired as a result of a relationship with a fellow officer while her male counterpart was not.
In a lawsuit filed in October in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Janelle Perez claims to be the victim of discrimination based on her sex, and alleges wrongful termination and violations of due process and her civil rights. City officials declined to discuss the lawsuit.
Perez’s suit, filed by attorney Marion Cruz, seeks back pay, reinstatement, compensation for emotional pain, punitive damages and attorney’s fees. It names the city of Roseville, the Police Department, Chief Daniel Hahn, Capt. Stephan Moore and Lt. Cal Walstad as defendants.
Perez began working at the department on Jan. 9, 2012, after six years of law enforcement work elsewhere. She was terminated by Hahn on Sept. 4, 2012.
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In her 20-page complaint, Perez claims she was not treated the same as some of the male officers hired at the same time. Unlike other new officers, she was required to complete a 10-week officer field training program, the suit claims. Others started the program, but did not have to finish the final eight weeks of field training with another officer, the suit says. Perez also claims that none of the male officers was required to read a book on emotional survival for law enforcement officers.
During Perez’s employment, the wife of a male officer wrote a letter to the department claiming that her estranged husband had engaged in an inappropriate personal relationship. Perez and the male officer were in the process of divorcing their spouses, and the letter triggered an internal affairs investigation. In the lawsuit, Perez claims that she and the male officer were involved in a personal relationship and exchanged text messages and phone calls during their shifts. But the suit said that allegations that they had engaged in inappropriate conduct while on duty were never substantiated.
The internal affairs investigation cited Perez and the male officer with unsatisfactory work performance and conduct unbecoming an officer. Perez and the male officer were reprimanded for an “on duty extramarital relationship.” But while the male officer continues to be employed by the department, Perez was told she did not successfully complete her probationary period.
“(The male officer) was not terminated or demoted by the city and/or department for any conduct related to this incident,” the lawsuit reads. “(He) is still employed with the city as a police officer for the department and has suffered no adverse employment action.”
Megan MacPherson, a spokeswoman for the city, questioned the veracity of the lawsuit. “We are confident that the Police Department made the appropriate decisions for the appropriate reasons,” she said.