A police officer sued one of her coworkers alleging he sexually assaulted her by smacking her on the butt with an open hand back in 2016. The accused officer was suspended for five days and quit while being investigated.
Last week, the female officer’s lawsuit was dismissed and the city ordered her to pay the accused officer’s legal fees, CBS Chicago reported.
The accuser, Denise Szany, claimed a fellow officer “assaulted her by grabbing her by her vest, then her belt and then by physically harming her,” according to court documents. Szany also claimed that during this same altercation is when the fellow officer, who has not been charged with a crime, smacked her on the butt.
Szany originally filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which granted her the right to sue. She filed her lawsuit in February 2017.
Szany alleged in her lawsuit that about a year after she filed it she was retaliated against by the City of Hammond, Illinois. She claimed the city knew about her lawsuit and assigned her to use the same police car as the man she accused, claiming this action put her “in a dangerous situation as well as contributed to the then ongoing pervasive hostile work environment.”
As District Court Judge Philip Simon noted, the Hammond Police Department has 200 officers and just fourteen marked cars, so officers on different shifts use the same cars. Szany, however, argued that “she was terrified” to use the same car as the officer she accused because she thought he would harass or assault her again.
“But there is no allegation that as a result of the car assignments that [the accused] and Szany were ever assigned to use the car at the same time, that they interacted with one another as a result, or that [the accused] actually did anything untoward or inappropriate to Szany during this time. After three months of this assignment system, Szany’s counsel wrote a letter and from then on Szany was no longer assigned to the same car as [the accused],” Simon wrote in September 2019.
“Here, Szany alleges only speculation that she was going to be harmed or harassed because of the car assignment system. But that is not a material adverse employment action. Notice pleading doesn’t require much, but it certainly requires more than the subjective fear of unrealized harm that Szany has offered,” Simon added.
At that time, Simon dismissed Count VII of Szany’s lawsuit, with prejudice, meaning she cannot appeal the dismissal.
Szany’s attorney now argues that since she is being ordered to pay legal fees after losing her lawsuit, she is being retaliated against yet again. Her attorney said she would appeal the decision, CBS Chicago reported.
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