By Josh Brokaw email@example.com The political platform is a promise to the people electing a candidate that a list of actions will be taken by that candidate, once they are put into office. There’s no more important promise that I can make as a political candidate than that I will continue to listen to the…Continue Reading “Brokaw for Sheriff Platform: What Do YOU Think the Sheriff Should Do?”
By Josh Brokaw firstname.lastname@example.org Ithaca and New York State Police were checking IDs for underage drinkers at Moonie’s Bar and Nightclub for at least an hour on the night of Thursday, September 27. This reporter noticed a New York State Police patrol car sitting directly on the west end of the Commons around 11:30 p.m….Continue Reading “Moonies Raided: Underage Drinking and Fake ID Bust on the Commons”
By Josh Brokaw email@example.com Brokaw conducted this interview with Derek Osborne, former Tompkins County undersheriff and 2018 candidate for sheriff, on June 28, 2018 — before declaring his own candidacy for the office. Due to windy conditions, a few minutes of the interview weren’t audible on the recording; those places are indicated with ellipses […]…Continue Reading “An Interview with Derek Osborne, Tompkins County Sheriff Candidate”
By Josh Brokaw firstname.lastname@example.org There is a consensus among Tompkins County’s legislators that the Tompkins County Public Safety building, which contains the Jail and the Sheriff’s Office, is in dire needs of repairs or replacement. What any renovations or replacement might look like is an open question, one that legislators are promising will only gain…Continue Reading “Tompkins County: Jail Is In Bad Shape, How Do We House Transgender Inmates?”
By Josh Brokaw email@example.com An Ithaca street musician known widely as Starlight was assaulted early in the morning of Friday, August 31. Starlight, a lanky, older man who’s usually wearing glasses and carrying a guitar, was found bloodied at the Sunoco A-Plus gas station at Cayuga and Green stations just after 3 a.m. on early…Continue Reading “Downtown Violence: Ithaca Street Musician Beaten, Stabbed, Recovering”
An Open Letter to Hell Raisers & TruthSayers. By Josh Brokaw firstname.lastname@example.org The time is here again for all independently-minded people who have a breath of free time to get themselves on the ballot for the 2018 election. For all of the hype about democracy being for all the people, it’s true that the election…Continue Reading “Election 2018: Hey Hell Raisers And TruthSayers: It’s Time for All You Indie Kids to Run For Office. Everyone’s Doing It!!”
ITEM: Two officers with “POLICE: Homeland Security” vests sighted walking up and down the Ithaca Commons on Monday afternoon, May 7. The two officers were spotted having a chat with a local pizza shop owner, before turning down Bank Alley and getting into a sleek late-model Ford sedan parked on Green Street with U.S. Government…Continue Reading “Homeland Security Officers Enjoy a Commons Walk Like Everyone Else”
Would you like to see an in-depth report on Rep. Tom Reed’s family medical debt collection firm? Click on this big, bold sentence to learn how you can help TruthSayers report more stories that matter to you. By Josh Brokaw email@example.com There will soon be no Ithaca Police Department officers receiving free rent at West…Continue Reading “No More Free Rent For Ithaca Police At West Village”
By Josh Brokaw
A lawsuit filed by an Ithaca Police Department officer alleging discrimination and retaliation against her because of her sexual orientation will move forward, after a federal judge issued a ruling in the case on Wednesday, March 21.
Sarah Crews, an IPD officer since 2007, filed a lawsuit in federal court in February 2017 against the City of Ithaca and former chief John Barber. The 28-page ruling, which you can view in full at the bottom of the page, was issued by U.S. district judge Mae D’Agostino in response to the city’s “motion to dismiss” Crews’ lawsuit.
In her decision issued Wednesday, D’Agostino summarized Crews’ argument like this:
“In essence, Plaintiff’s problem is that the Search and Jail Policies are blind to her sexual orientation. Thus, Plaintiff is arguing that IPD created an objectively hostile work environment by not treating her differently on the basis of her sexual orientation.”
The IPD’s Search and Jail policies were updated in 2011 to read that “whenever possible,” a female officer will transport female prisoners, and that only female officers should search female prisoners. This policy, the lawsuit argues, has put Crews into an “inordinate amount of compromising situations” with prisoners that male officers have avoided, including an incident in March 2011 when a female prisoner threatened to claim harassment against Crews and started masturbating in the officer’s presence. The lawsuit says that Crews made “dozens” of verbal complaints about the policy, before formally voicing her concern in writing in May 2015.
From that point on, the lawsuit argues that Crews was retaliated against for speaking out, first by being assigned to beats she did not prefer. Two notices of discipline issued to Crews since 2015 are also claimed to be retaliatory, stemming from incidents when Crews says she expressed frustration with the policy.
Here’s the gist of Crews’ complaint, taken from the lawsuit, which you can view in full at this link:
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Crews filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in August 2016, and was granted the right to sue by the EEOC in November 2016.
The city of Ithaca, represented by Earl T. Redding, of Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux, Albany, argued in their motion to dismiss that the claim of sexual orientation discrimination is not protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Since the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on February 26 that Title VII does apply to sexual orientation. D’Agostino denied the motion to dismiss on those grounds.
“This is cutting edge law for the gay community,” Crews’ attorney, Edward Kopko, told TruthSayers. “This is predicated on some tectonic shifts in the law from the Second Circuit … They reversed some longstanding precedents and entered a decision in the Zarda case that was very significant”
To determine that there is a case of discrimination, the judge must see a “materially adverse change” in the terms of employment. A reprimand or excessive scrutiny aren’t enough in the case law to prove discrimination. D’Agostino ruled that the vacation time Crews lost was “a sufficient loss of benefits to establish an adverse action” under discrimination law.
D’Agostino dismissed the city’s argument that the rule prohibiting male officers from searching females is a “bona fide occupational qualification,” which would create an exception from Title VII if the rule is “reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business.” The arguments made by the city in support of its Search & Jail Policies so far, D’Agostino wrote, “are unable to show that the policy was not discriminatory or that there was no reasonable alternative.”
The case will now enter its discovery stage, when the two sides identify potential witnesses and relevant documents to each other and the judge.
“We’re excited about this partial victory but we’re going to remain vigilant,” Kopko said. Kopko plans on appealing the parts of the city’s motion to dismiss that D’Agostino did grant, so that those portions of the complaint won’t considered in the final decision. Those include Crews’ initial complaint about beat assignments, and a notice of discipline from October 2015, because they are are “time barred” — outside of the time window that can be considered in the suit.
“The city could change this [policy] by one signature by the mayor,” Kopko said. “The whole purpose of the lawsuit is to get the city to change its policy. If the city won’t change its policy, we’re going to ask a federal judge to change its policy because a federal judge has the authority to do that.”
A request for comment to the City of Ithaca’s attorney office was not returned by end of business on Thursday, March 22.
Keep TruthSayers open as a public information service by making a donation today. Chotiwat Luenam was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Ithaca, N.Y. on January 23, 2018, and released from the Batavia Federal Detention Facility after posting a $5,000 bond on February 21, 2018. The Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition asked Chotiwat…Continue Reading “Afraid of Arrest By ICE? Here’s Advice From Someone Who Lived It”