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Feds Sue Puerto Rico Police for Gender Discrimination and Retaliation

March 12, 2008  | 

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the Puerto Rico Police Department alleging that it discriminated against female officer Jeannette Caraballo Lopez (Caraballo) on the basis of her sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to the complaint, the PRPD discriminated against Caraballo, among other ways, by requiring her to perform secretarial tasks not required of male officers, and subjecting her to sexually discriminatory comments such as saying that the division in the PRPD where she worked as an agent-investigator (the Division of Investigation of Stolen Vehicles) was "not for females."

The complaint also alleges that the PRPD retaliated against officer Caraballo because she opposed employment practices of the PRPD that she reasonably believed unlawful and because she filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under Title VII. The complaint further alleges that the PRPD retaliated against male officer Manuel Bonilla Carrasquillo (Bonilla) because he opposed the PRPD's employment practices with respect to female police officers that he reasonably believed to be unlawful.

"Title VII prohibits a public employer from relegating female police officers to perform only those limited tasks the employer deems suitable for women, while allowing male police officers to perform the full range of the tasks associated with the job," said Grace Chung Becker, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "Also, a public employer cannot retaliate against employees because they oppose employment practices that they reasonably believe are discriminatory or because they file a charge with the EEOC."

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