Equality in Ithaca

I am a police officer in Ithaca, New York.  I have filed a lawsuit against the City of Ithaca and its police chief, alleging discrimination against me based on my sex, gender and sexual orientation. It is my position that the Ithaca Police Department has in place policies that provide protections to my heterosexual coworkers that it denies me as an openly gay woman, and that historical behavior toward me during my employment there shows a hostile atmosphere toward my concerns about these discriminatory policies.  These policies pertain to the search, transport, and jailing of prisoners.  The policies are exclusively hetero-normative, and do not address the rights and needs of LGBTQ officers or prisoners.  I have asked the City and Police Department for help in modifying these policies over the years, and they have refused to do so.

I seek a change in Police Department policies, to provide equal protection to LGBTQ officers and prisoners.

Ithaca presents itself as a tolerant and inclusive community, yet it falls short when meeting the needs of its LGBTQ residents and employees.  The City claims that sexual orientation is not protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and by this claim they are denying legal protections and recognition to the LGBTQ community.  This claim cannot be sustained in the Second Circuit following that Court’s historic decision in Zarda last year. 

The law is inadequate regarding protections for LGBTQ people.  We need to challenge this outdated denial of equal protection.  I have filed this lawsuit in hopes of not only bettering my own employment conditions, but of setting precedent to extend basic workplace protections to LGBTQ people everywhere.  

My objections to these discriminatory policies continue and I am facing ongoing disciplinary actions which I believe are retaliation. I think my employers goal is to terminate my employment.   It will be much harder fighting this fight if I’m un or under employed. 

I have already spent almost $50,000 on the legal process.  I seek to raise another $60,000.  Because of the City of Ithaca's intransigence and the gray area of law in which we are working, I expect to have setbacks in court, and anticipate appeals before we meet with success.  The $60,000 amount should cover expenses through the likely appeals.

It is not easy for me to ask for financial help, especially from people I do not know.  But I think I have a just and noble goal in this lawsuit, and I greatly appreciate any and all help that people are willing to give me.

Thank you!
Sarah

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Organizer

Sarah Crews 
Organizer
Berkshire, NY
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