ACLU Obtains Judgment Against NYC for Gender Discrimination Against Correction Officer Who Reported Sexual Assault

August 21, 2007 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union obtained a judgment late yesterday against the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) on behalf of 27-year-old Danielle Simmonds, a New York City correction officer who claimed that the DOC discriminated against her and subjected her to a hostile work environment after she reported an on-duty sexual assault by a co-worker. The $95,001 judgment resolves a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in federal district court.

“We are pleased to announce a resolution that provides our client a measure of justice. It is imperative that victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking be able to report their experiences to their employers without being retaliated against,” said Araceli Martínez-Olguín of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. Simmonds’ lawsuit is one of several harassment and discrimination lawsuits pending against the DOC.

“I am disappointed that the department continues to discriminate against victims of sexual assault, and hope that other women correction officers come forward to enforce their rights,” said Simmonds. “It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s important.”

According to Simmonds, after she reported the assault, the DOC failed to investigate the incident or punish the perpetrator, and then retaliated against Simmonds for speaking out about the DOC’s inaction. Simmonds also claimed that she was stripped of several discretionary benefits because she had to take time off from work as a result of the assault, and that she was held to different standards than male correction officers.

This lawsuit was brought by the ACLU as part of its larger advocacy effort to ensure that victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are able to participate in the job market without being discriminated against at work. The ACLU applauds Simmonds’ courage in standing up and confronting both her attacker and the New York City Department of Correction by filing this case.

Counsel for Simmonds are Lenora Lapidus, Emily Martin, and Martínez-Olguín of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, as well as John Lovi and Lara Romansic of Steptoe & Johnson, LLP.

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