Dayton police Sgt. sues department for gender discrimination

Sgt. Tonina Lamanna says in a lawsuit she was denied jobs for which she was qualified.

Lamanna filed the suit last week against the Dayton police department in Dayton’s U.S. District Court, claiming “ongoing ordeals” during several years.

Lamanna’s attorney wrote in a complaint that Lamanna was not being hired to jobs for which she said she was the most qualified.

The suit said that Lamanna was asked inappropriate gender-related questions such as “what she would do if she got pregnant” and if she “felt she was strong enough” to handle a canine.

“She applied to be part of the canine unit in 2010, had to basically file a charge of discrimination to get that one,” Lamanna’s Columbus-based attorney Chandra Brown told this news organization. “And then when she applied for a promotion to sergeant in 2014 — she had the highest civil service exam score for that position — and didn’t get the promotion. That’s the basis for the complaint.”

Dayton police statistics show 44 of 356 employees are female, five of 48 sergeants are female and one of four majors are female. Stats also show one of 12 lieutenants are female, as are 37 of 288 officers.

Dayton’s police and fire departments are no longer under federal scrutiny, having started again accepting applications for new recruits in October 2015.

In September 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against Dayton, alleging its testing unfairly discriminated against minority candidates.

In February 2009, Dayton and the justice department reached a settlement in which the city agreed to modify its recruitment program and exam standards to try to increase minority participation.

According to the suit, Lamanna served as Dayton police’s first female canine handler starting in January 2011 — after filing a charge of discrimination with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Lamanna claims she was not promoted after she had the top score in November 2014 on the Police Sergeant civil service test and that the position was awarded to a white male. Lamanna was promoted to sergeant this year, but not in the K-9 unit.

A message seeking comment from Dayton police was referred to the city representatives, who said, “The City does not make comments on pending litigation.”

Lamanna “has been subjected to harassment since she initially filed her first complaint” and “the harassment intensified” regarding the civil service exam, the complaint states.

Brown wrote that Lamanna was denied training, required to provide medical slips when taking leave “although others (white males)” were not to provide similar slips, that she was denied leave time and that she was subjected to adverse changes in the “departmental policies with respect to retired canines.”

Lamanna filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Opportunity Commission and received a “Notice of Right to Sue” letter from the EEOC. Brown said nothing came of an effort to settle the dispute.

“I think there’s always a worry with, you know, anyone retaliating against you when you bring a lawsuit against your current boss,” Brown said. “But I don’t know that there’s a specific concern.”

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, back pay, front pay, benefits and attorney fees.

“She loves her job. She’s loves working with canines,” Brown said. “She likes the work that she does, it’s just the way that she has to get to be able to do her work is the problem.”

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