Northville Twp. sued over alleged discrimination

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

For the second time this year, Northville Township public safety officials are facing legal action over alleged mistreatment of an employee.

A lawsuit filed Friday in Wayne County Circuit Court claims Samantha Bowlin, a township police sergeant, was denied a promotion based on her gender then retaliated against for pursuing a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint.

Bowlin, who joined the township in 2001, applied last December for one of two lieutenant positions that needed to be filled, according to her suit.

Although a contract between the municipality and a command officers’ association outlines a specific formula to determine such moves, Public Safety Director John Werth and his colleagues “changed the eligibility requirements and procedures solely for this promotion in order to create an advantage for the male applicants and a disadvantage for… a female,” the court filing asserted.

Despite having the most seniority, no disciplinary record, more training and experience, Bowlin was ranked last on the promotion list, her lawsuit contends. During a debriefing about the ranking, Werth allegedly said she “would never be a lieutenant as long as he was the director of public safety.”

Werth did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.

After filing the gender discrimination complaint, Bowlin was told to cancel all appearances at homeowner association meetings for which she earned overtime pay and denied a vacation day, the lawsuit alleges.

Citing Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act violations as well as loss of wages and other issues, the filing seeks more than $25,000 in damages.

Township Manager Chip Snider did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.

The lawsuit is the second this year from a township worker who alleged unfair treatment.

In May, former fire chief Richard Marinucci sued the township over what he claims was wrongful termination.

Township leaders have said he voluntarily resigned his $116,000-a-year post in March, but Marinucci says they fired him.

He was an at-will employee and could be terminated at any time without explanation. However, his lawsuit claimed he was not dismissed for just-cause.

In a court filing last month, township officials denied the allegations.