A former Baton Rouge police officer says years of gender-based discrimination and harassment, including finding a sex toy in her office mailbox, left her no other alternative but to retire last year after 28 years on the force.
Sandra Hunt, who was hired as a police officer in 1986, is seeking damages in a lawsuit she filed this week in Baton Rouge state court against the city-parish and Police Department.
Hunt alleges she was subjected to repeated sexually oriented comments about her breasts and body, was grabbed on her breast and buttocks on a repeated basis, and was shown computer images of men and women engaged in sexual acts.
She also contends a male co-worker came into her office, closed the door and exposed himself while stating, “You need some of this.”
Hunt says she made numerous complaints about the harassing environment to her superior and the human resources department, to no avail, and was effectively demoted.
Hunt’s attorney, Jill Craft, said Friday that Hunt loved being a police officer and serving the people of Baton Rouge.
“It was important for her at the end of her career to stand up and make people aware of what is going on in the Police Department and hopefully effect some change,” Craft said. “Hopefully going forward it doesn’t happen to other women in the department.”
The Baton Rouge Police Department, which historically does not discuss pending litigation, did not respond to requests for comment.
Hunt alleges in her suit, filed Wednesday, that she and her female co-workers were repeatedly denied extra duty or overtime in favor of their male co-workers. When Hunt and her female co-workers were occasionally allowed to work extra duty, she claims, they were deliberately handed undesirable locations and assignments in comparison to their male counterparts.
Hunt became a lieutenant in August 2013 and was immediately removed from her office, stripped of her computer and denied access to a desk telephone and any functional office space while a junior male officer was put in her former office, the suit states.
In late 2013, after Hunt filed several formal discrimination complaints with the police union, her weapon and police unit were taken from her “because she filed the complaint,” the suit claims.
“In spite of (Hunt’s) complaints of unlawful gender-based discrimination and harassment, the situation in (her) working environment escalated to the point when (she) could no longer tolerate the unabated situation and she was forced to retire,” the suit says.
The suit has been assigned to state District Judge Mike Caldwell.