A female University Police sergeant is suing the school for sexual harassment and gender discrimination, alleging that she was subject to anti-gay slurs and retaliation after going on maternity leave.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court, with accusations first of sexual harassment. Sgt. Haydee Martinez accused Sgt. Timothy Reuss of sexually harassing her for three or more months ending in March 2011, according to the lawsuit. Martinez, who is a lesbian, said in the lawsuit Reuss made anti-gay comments around her and also wrongfully accused her of forging her timesheet.
Later that year, Martinez began undergoing fertility treatments, so she began working light duty, which is considered a less demanding task. She became pregnant and notified the Unviersity of this in October 2011, according to the lawsuit. Martinez was allowed to continue working on light duty for about another month, before she was told by Deputy Chief Daniel McAleer that she would have to go on disability or take medical leave until she could perform her "full duties." At the time she was denied further light duty, there was light duty work available for her to do. She chose to take medical leave, and had her child in June 2012, according the the lawsuit.
The court documents state that when Martinez returned from maternity leave about three months after having her child, she was not allowed to bid for her shifts. Shift bidding leaves work hours to be determined by the preferences of the officers. Instead of being able to voicie her preference like the other sergeants, Martinez said she was assigned to a swing shift, which means switching back and forth between different shifts.
"While officers generally find swing shifts difficult to work, swing shifts are particularly difficult and inappropriate for a new mother," the lawsuit says. It goes on to say that male officers with lesser seniority who were available to work the swing shift were not assigned to it, claiming thus that Martinez was assigned the shift based on her gender.
Martinez also accuses the University of indifference to her right to equal pay, alleging in the lawsuit she was paid less than male employees in similar positions to hers since her promotion to sergeant in 2007. The case was initally filed in Cook County Circuit Court last month, but was refiled Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago as it is related to the federal Equal Pay Act, according to court documents.
The lawsuit claims that the University Police's denial of assigning Martinez light duty thorughout her pregnancy, her assignment to a swing shift and her inability to partake in shift bidding all are forms of retaliation against her due to her initial claim of discrimination. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the claims of pregnancy discrimination, gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation.