East Lansing defends handling of promotions for women

Associated Press

East Lansing — The city of East Lansing is defending its police department’s handling of promotions for female officers following a lawsuit that alleges gender discrimination, according to filings in the case.

The Lansing State Journal reports, however, that the city has acknowledged that a captain in 2014 made as if he was going to throw away an application he had been handed by a female officer. That application was Tresha Neff’s second for a promotion to lieutenant.

The city admitted to the allegation about Neff’s second application in a filing Friday in federal court in Grand Rapids. When she submitted it, according to the lawsuit, the caption took it “in his hand and then motioned like he was going to throw it in the trash and asked ‘is this where this goes?’”

The 21-year department veteran sued the city, saying she was passed over for promotions because she is a woman. She was promoted to sergeant in 2011 after eight previous applications for promotion.

Neff’s lawsuit also said she was denied training, better schedules and other benefits that her male co-workers were allowed. She said she lost wages, was humiliated and her professional reputation suffered.

The city denies those allegations. It’s asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit and award the city costs and attorney fees. It said its actions “were at all times motivated by legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons.”

The lawsuit said she doesn’t have any disciplinary action in her records at the department. The city’s response indicated, however, that she had a verbal reprimand in her file for six months but didn’t offer specifics.