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Female Pennsylvania Dispatchers File Sex Discrimination Suit

Two Allegheny County Port Authority women dispatchers allege that the Port Authority and its current chief discriminate against female applicants. The two women, Danielle Stangl and Yvette Koerner, have filed a federal sex discrimination case against the Port Authority and Police Chief William McArdle. The two women allege that McArdle has created a hostile work environment for female employees, rife with verbal harassment and discouragement against seeking positions as police officers. “McArdle doesn’t think females should be police officers,” said Danielle Stangl. The Chief has only appointed one female police officer in his nine years on the force, while he has appointed 29 men to the position. There are 36 officers and 8 supervisors in total in the department, with only 4 of those positions held by women, three of who became officers before McArdle’s term as chief. Stangl and Koerner argue that this disparity is part of a systematic pattern of sex discrimination within the department. Chief McArdle has hired men without any police experience, and one with a drunk driving record, while Stangl and Koerner’s applications were consistently rejected, although both have experience as dispatchers and as part-time police officers in neighboring towns. “Males are openly favored in McArdle’s regime and McArdle has tacitly let it be known that females can’t expect promotion or satisfactory equal treatment,” the women’s suit says. Stangl and Koerner are seeking awards for damages, promotions to police officer, and an injunction forbidding further discrimination in the department. Research by the National Center for Women & Policing indicates that the discrimination, harassment and intimidation experienced by women in the Allegheny County Port Authority are common in police departments across the country, and keep the percentage of women in policing low. Current figures show a rate of only 12.7% women officers in agencies with 100 or more officers, a decrease from rates of 14.3% in 1999.

Sources:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; 07/09/02

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