MYNORTHWEST NEWS

4 female officers filing lawsuit against Seattle, SPD over discrimination, harassment

Jul 3, 2024, 8:46 AM | Updated: 8:50 am

seattle spd lawsuit...

Adrian Diaz addresses the press at a news conference on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 after Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced Diaz has been removed from his position as Seattle Police Chief. (Image courtesy of The Seattle Channel)

(Image courtesy of The Seattle Channel)

Four female Seattle police officers have filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department (SPD), accusing leadership of sexual harassment and creating a toxic workplace.

The four women — Kame Spencer, Jean Gulpan, Valerie Carson and Lauren Truscott — filed the lawsuit after their previous tort claim reportedly went unanswered.

Previous coverage on tort claim against SPD: Women suing SPD for sexual harassment are face of recruitment efforts

Among the names listed in the lawsuit was former Police Chief Adrian Diaz, citing him as, at least partially, responsible for creating the aforementioned hostile work environment while being a culprit of sexual and racial discrimination within the department.

Last month, Diaz revealed to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH that he is gay and has struggled privately with his identity for the last several years.

“It’s a story that it’s struggled with, over the last four years, that I’m a gay Latino man,” Diaz said in an exclusive interview with Rantz. “You know, it doesn’t bother me. It’s more of my concern for my kids because they’re going to have to deal with a lot of the struggles that I might not have to deal with.”

The plaintiffs claimed the recent revelations by the former police chief are “inconsequential” to the case, according to KOMO News.

Alleged discrimination from SPD leadership

Officer Carson stated in the tort claim that Diaz “began to pay special attention” to her when she started with the Public Affairs Unit. Members of his security detail believed “he was trying to engage in a romantic relationship” with her due to their frequent conversations at work with the tort claim stating “the suspicion was warranted” because Diaz wouldn’t talk about work with her.

The tort claim also suggested Diaz would try to see her get undressed at the office. At the time, Carson was changing out of her uniform to civilian clothes in a cubicle at headquarters because she said there was no changing room for women on this floor. Carson also claimed that she feared Diaz would try to kiss her on New Year’s Eve while on duty with the chief, made “flattering comments” on her “leopard print outfits” and tried to help her with housework at her house.

“What he said in that interview bears witness to what my clients are saying in their complaint. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or not. You can be a misogynist,” Attorney Sumeer Singla, who is representing the four women, said in an interview with KOMO News. “My client knew at the time that the interactions that she was having were that he was a married man with three children, who was making inappropriate comments towards her. There was no revelation of him being gay or realizing that he was being gay or anything like that.”

More on SPD: Seattle mayor hires firm to probe SPD sexual harassment, discrimination claims

Lieutenant John O’Neill was also listed in the lawsuit for similar behavior. O’Neill runs the media relations department, where the four women were employed at one point. All four women have been passed over for promotions, according to the previously filed tort claim, and have since been transferred out of the department.

“Supervisors made advances or made comments to these women about their looks or about their dating history, and when they rebuffed those advances, they were then punished,” Singla told KIRO Newsradio. “We’re talking about harassment, unwanted advances. We’re talking about retaliation where they have made complaints and then have had complaints lodged against them.”

The tort claim was originally seeking $5 million from the city, but now, according to KOMO News, the four women are pushing for a jury trial.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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