A Suffolk County jury has awarded more than $2 million to a veteran female police officer in Winthrop, finding that the town sexually discriminated and retaliated against her, according to court records.
Judy A. Racow, a police officer for more than 20 years, claimed she was wrongly removed from the detective unit, passed over for other jobs, excluded from training sessions and falsely investigated, according to the complaint.
Last week, a Superior Court jury agreed, awarding Racow $676,000 for emotional damages, plus $1,352,000 in punitive damages, according to court records.
In a statement on its website, Powers, Jodoin, Margolis & Mantell, the law firm that represented Racow, said the punitive damages were made “to condemn and deter future conduct of the same nature.”
Police Chief Terence M. Delehanty, who is also serving as the interim town manager, said that an appeal is likely.
“We’re reviewing the verdict and planning an appeal,” he said in a brief interview. He declined further comment.
Racow also alleged an abuse of power by town officials who waged an “unwarranted and unlawful campaign of harassment and retaliation against her.”
The officials’ actions caused Racow to suffer severe emotional distress, prevented her from doing her job safely and effectively, and cost her the opportunity to earn substantial overtime, according to the complaint.
The filing outlines various allegations of discrimination and retaliation against Racow, the first female appointed to the detective unit.
In May 2006, about 11 years after Racow was made a detective, she was reassigned as a patrol officer, even though she had more “training, experience, and seniority in the position than two of the four male detectives, all of whom remained in the unit,” according to the complaint.
Although the town claimed the reassignment was aimed at reducing overtime and addressing staffing issues, it actually created additional overtime costs, according to Racow’s suit.
When she complained and filed a grievance over the reassignment, which was supposed to be temporary, the town retaliated and made it permanent, Racow alleged.
After filing a charge with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in 2006, Racow resolved the matter with the town in early 2007, and she was returned to the detective unit, according to the complaint.
Once back on the unit, however, Racow said she was not allowed to participate “in investigations which traditionally and directly fell within the job duties of the detectives,” the complaint stated.
In 2012, she was made to cover “almost all” of another officer’s patrol shifts once he was assigned to work in the detective unit, according to the complaint.
“After working plainclothes assignments as a detective since 1995, (apart from 2006-2008), it was humiliating for Officer Racow, one of the most senior officers in the Department, to be forced to work in uniform to cover the shifts of a junior male patrol officer,” read the complaint.
Additionally, Delehanty, the chief, had assigned police to investigate Racow in the summer of 2013 to determine whether Racow had “improperly disseminated police information,” according to Racow’s complaint.
Racow said in her suit that the chief wanted to demonstrate that Racow had told a Winthrop resident who was being investigated for “possible drug activity” about “the presence of a surveillance camera near his home.”
Racow denied the allegation, and claimed that the investigation was intended to manufacture a reason to remove her from the detective unit.
Delehanty retained an outside consultant, Pomeroy Resources, Inc., to assist in that investigation. He offered to not release the consultant’s report if she resigned from the detective unit, but Racow refused, according to the complaint.
In September 2013, Delehanty told her that she was being removed from the detective unit, returning to a uniformed patrol position, according to the suit.
Delehanty, the complaint stated, did not provide a reason for her removal and placed the report of Pomeroy Resources, Inc., into her personnel record.Danny McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.