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Update: Victory in Albuquerque Gender-Bias Disciplinary Suit

Sheryl Paloni, the Albuquerque police officer who filed a discrimination complaint alleging unfair discipline earlier this year, has received a favorable ruling from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As reported in our July 2nd, 2002 article, Paloni accused the Albuquerque Police Department of discrimination after she was disciplined for firing her sidearm during a pursuit, while male officers guilty of the same error in the same incident were not disciplined. Paloni admitted to having shot at the car of a fleeing bank robbery suspect, which is expressly discouraged in department policy. While Paloni accepted that she should have received some discipline, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the other female officer involved in the incident was also disciplined, while none of the male officers were. Paloni’s victory though is bittersweet. She was pleased to see that the Commission recognized that the Department’s actions were obviously discriminatory, but the incident cost her a 20-year police career. After experiencing significant backlash from her colleagues for filing the complaint, Paloni feared that her fellow officers would refuse to back her up on calls. She felt remaining on the force “just wasn’t safe.” Paloni’s only hope at this point is that she has forced her former Department to take a closer look at a culture that she says was consistently biased against women when it came to promotions and disciplinary action. She also hopes that her actions will encourage women officers who follow her to stand up for themselves and demand equality in the workplace.

Sources:

Albuquerque Tribune, 11/27/02

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