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Female Cop Sues East Hampton for Allowing ‘Boys Club’ Culture

Police Officer Andrea M. Kess, East Hampton Police Department

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., announces Andrea M. Kess has filed a Charge of Discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Town of East Hampton alleging a pervasive male centric ‘Boys Club’ where female officers are subjected to an abusive work environment and denied employment opportunities

 

NEW YORK, July 8, 2023 – Today, Ms. Kess says, “as a female police officer serving the Town of East Hampton, you expect to face certain challenges in a male-dominated field. However, constant harassment and discrimination should not be among them.”

According to a charge filed against the Town of East Hampton, for more than one hundred fifty-two [152] years its police management has systematically denied women equal employment opportunities and fair treatment, instead fostering an entrenched male centric ‘Boys Club’ culture. After enduring years of unequal pay and promotions as well as lewd comments by male colleagues, Ms. Kess has decided to take a stand to demand change. She aims to hold the Town and its police management accountable and ensure that women who choose to protect and serve have the chance to do so with dignity and respect.

In 1978, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] adopted the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures [UGESP] under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The UGESP provides uniform guidance for employers to ensure its testing and selection procedures follow Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, theory of disparate impact. Ms. Kess alleges that the Town as an employer, upon information and belief, is not in compliance with the UGESP.

According to the Charge, Ms. Kess alleges that Chief Michael Sarlo; Captain Christopher Anderson; Lieutenant Daniel Toia; Lieutenant Gregory Schaefer; Sergeant Wayne Mata; Sergeant Gregory Martin; Police Officer Raymond Rau and others either participated, condoned, or acquiesced to the discriminatory practices. Moreover, she alleges that the Town is aware of this male centric ‘Boys Club’ culture but, has done nothing to protect its female officers.

Ms. Kess has served the department for over seven [7] years. Despite her extensive experience and education, she has been denied promotions and other employment opportunities repeatedly in favor of less qualified male colleagues. Ms. Kess alleges that the department under Chief Michael Sarlo has failed to grant she and other similarly situated female officers’ discretionary appointments to the Detective Division. In fact, Ms. Kess claims she was denied discretionary appointments twice to the Detective Division despite outperforming all officers in the measurable metrics of arrests, citations, and other law enforcement activities. During her tenure, Ms. Kess she sat for and passed the Promotion to Sergeant, Suffolk County Civil Service examination and placed number one (1) on the Eligibles List with the highest score for candidates. The certified Eligibles List was active from November 17, 2019 through November 17, 2021. The department had several vacancies due to retirements and other personnel related decisions.
Although there were several vacancies, Chief Michael Sarlo intentionally failed to promote her to sergeant due to her gender. Ms. Kess alleges that Chief Michael Sarlo intentionally let the Eligibles List expire to avoid promoting her and having two [2] female supervisors at the same time.

According to Ms. Kess, she alleges that female police officers at the East Hampton Police Department face discrimination and a hostile work environment due to the pervasive male centric ‘Boys Club’ culture. According to the Charge, the Town and its police management has failed to prevent and remedy severe and pervasive sexual harassment against its female officers.

  • Specifically, Ms. Kess asserts that female officers have been subjected to inappropriate comments by male officers and supervisors. Male officers and supervisors allegedly made frequent remarks about the appearance and bodies of female officers, asked invasive questions about their personal lives, amongst other behaviors.
  • Male officers and supervisors allegedly made frequent lewd remarks about the appearance and bodies of female complainants, asked invasive questions about their personal lives, and subjected them to biased investigations inconsistent with department policy, prevailing law, and best law enforcement practices.
  • Kess also alleges that the Town and its police management has failed to properly investigate complaints of harassment and has retaliated against those who report such conduct. She and similarly situated female officers who complain about harassment face isolation, poor assignments, and stalled careers, creating a culture where abuse is tolerated and victims are silenced.
  • In addition, Ms. Kess claims that the Town and its police management has failed to recruit, hire, promote and retain female officers, especially in supervisory roles. As a result, women are significantly underrepresented in the department, particularly in leadership positions, further perpetuating the male centric ‘Boys Club’ culture.

Ms. Kess seeks injunctive relief to reform the Town’s and department’s policies and practices regarding sexual harassment and discrimination as well as compensatory and punitive damages. Overall, she paints a disturbing picture of a department rife with discrimination that is unsafe and unwelcoming for female officers. Reform is desperately needed to remedy these civil rights violations, hold wrongdoers accountable, and bring the department into the 21st century.

“Frankly, Chief Sarlo and the other officers need to voluntarily step down, retire or be fired. More importantly, the Town should perform a top to bottom investigation of the department to ensure the male centric “Boys Club’ culture is eradicated and remedied,” says Eric Sanders.

The Amended Charge of Discrimination [Charge No.: 520-2023-04797] was filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on June 30, 2023.

The Sanders Firm, P.C. Fighting for Justice, and Reform to Promote Equal Opportunity

New York Civil Rights Lawyer Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., has a proven track record of fighting injustice and discrimination. He’s currently representing Ms. Kess who claims that the Town and its police department has fostered a male centric ‘Boys Club’ culture that marginalizes and limits employment opportunities for she and other women.

With over nineteen (19) years of experience, Mr. Sanders has successfully litigated civil rights cases involving law enforcement agencies. The firm holds these institutions accountable and pushes for meaningful reforms to promote equal opportunity. Over the years, Mr. Sanders has secured millions of dollars in compensatory damages for clients alleging discrimination and other violations of civil rights.

In this matter, Mr. Sanders is seeking injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages to send a message that discriminatory practices will not be tolerated. The Charge and if necessary, a federal complaint filed in the United States Court for the Eastern District of New York – Central Islip requests the EEOC or the Court to require the Town and its police management to implement policy changes and training to remedy their harassment and discrimination. Specific measures proposed include:

  • Appointing an independent monitor to oversee the Town and its police management’s compliance with federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws.
  • Revising hiring, retention, and promotion policies to increase diversity and inclusion.
  • Providing mandatory sensitivity and diversity education for all personnel.
  • Establishing a confidential complaint process so other victims feel safe coming forward.

By fighting against civil rights violations like those alleged here, Ms. Sanders continues to advocate for creating fair and equitable workplaces. Overall, Mr. Sanders remains dedicated to eliminating harassment and discrimination so that employees are judged based on “objective standards” consistent with the UGESP as well as prevailing federal, state, and local anti-harassment laws.

Contact

Eric Sanders, Esq.
President and Owner, The Sanders Firm, P.C.
Business Phone: 212-652-2782

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EEOC Charge of Discrimination

New York Post

 

 

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