Leeds Gender Based Suit

For Immediate Release

Nov. 18, 2008

For Further Information Contact:
Jeffrey K. Brown, Esq.

Three Retired, Female Police Detectives Win $1 Million Verdict In Gender-Based Discrimination Suit Against Nassau County

Central Islip, New York – A federal jury awarded $1 million to three retired, female police detectives, who filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Nassau County claiming they endured gender-based discrimination and harassment while working for the Nassau County Police Department.

After a six-week trial before U.S. District Magistrate Judge E. Thomas Boyle in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, on Nov. 18, 2008 a federal jury found that Nassau County engaged in “disparate treatment based on gender” and that all three plaintiffs — Pamela Olsen, Deirdre Ketchum, and Noreen Cribbin — experienced “gender motivated harassment.”

The jury also found that:

  • Olsen and Ketchum experienced unlawful retaliation after complaining of the discrimination;
  • Nassau County engaged in a “policy and practice” of discrimination violating all three women’s right to Equal Protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and
  • Nassau County’s discrimination and harassment training was “inadequate.”

Olsen, Ketchum and Cribbin, were represented by Leeds Brown Law. The lead trial counsel was Rick Ostrove, who tried the case along with Thomas Ricotta.

In addition to the jury finding Nassau County liable for $1 million in emotional damages, all three women are entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees, which are expected to be over $500,000.

The women are also entitled to an award of financial damages to be assessed by the Judge Boyle.

“I am pleased that Nassau County residents will not tolerate gender-based harassment in the police department,” said Jeffrey Brown, senior partner of Leeds Brown Law.

All three women began working as police officers for the Nassau County Police Department in the 1980s. Eventually, each was promoted to the rank of detective and eventually transferred, at different times, to the 8th Squad Detectives Unit.

In the lawsuit, Olsen, Ketchum and Cribbin, alleged that while working in the 8th Squad Detectives Unit, they received over 30 gender-based emails, saw pornography, and heard numerous offensive gender-based comments including “bitch” and “cunt.” The women also alleged they were treated worse than their male counterparts in the terms and conditions of employment.

“We applaud Leeds Brown Law for a tremendous effort and its undivided loyalty to our case. As a result of this verdict, it is our sincere hope that women in the workplace will feel less intimidated in standing up for their rights,” said Olsen, Ketchum, and Cribbin.

All three woman worked in the 8th Squad until Summer 2005, when Olsen filed a discrimination complaint with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Cribbin retired on Nov. 11, 2005, and Olsen and Ketchum alleged in their lawsuit that they were subjected to unlawful retaliation until their retirement (Ketchum on Nov. 1, 2007 and Olsen on Feb. 16, 2008).

“This is a landmark decision that sends a strong message to women everywhere that gender-harassment will not be tolerated in the workplace,” said Lenard Leeds, senior partner of Leeds Brown Law.

“What happened to my clients was an outrage and it is a disgrace that the Nassau County permitted this gender-based harassment to persist for years, “said Rick Ostrove, lead trial counsel with Leeds Brown Law.

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