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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Police Officer Hopeful States Claim for Gender Bias, Federal Judge Says 
The New York Law Journal by John Caher  -  September 26, 2011

An aspiring police officer who claims she was blacklisted after complaining of gender discrimination has stated a "sufficiently plausible" claim of discriminatory retaliation to defeat a motion for dismissal, a federal judge in Rochester has held. Western District Judge Michael A. Telesca said that Edith Jordan can pursue an action under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and Title IX in which she alleges she was forced out of the Southern Tier Law Enforcement Academy at Corning Community College because of her gender, and then repeatedly denied opportunities with out-of-state police agencies because she was bad-mouthed by officials in New York. Jordan v. Corning Community College, 11-cv-6182, centers on a woman who has persistently, but unsuccessfully, attempted to pursue a career in law enforcement. According to the complaint, Ms. Jordan enrolled in the police academy in January 2007, when she was the only female cadet. Ms. Jordan alleges she was publicly derided as the "weakest link" in the class, denied opportunities afforded to men to make up missed training sessions and expected to use bathroom and changing facilities 10 miles from the academy. A month after enrolling, Ms. Jordan was terminated. She filed a discrimination charge with the state Division of Human Rights a few months after her ouster, and another in April 2008 when she was rejected by the Myrtle Beach Police Department, the Virginia State Police and the police department in Chesterfield County, Va. She contends that those departments turned her down because of negative reviews provided by officials at the Southern Tier academy. The parties stipulated to a settlement in 2009 in which the defendants agreed to pay Ms. Jordan $1,100 and also agreed to advise prospective future employers that she withdrew from the academy for personal reasons—which, according to Ms. Jordan, is not accurate—and that she had "excelled academically and had been appointed squad leader by her peers." However, according to the complaint, the defendants subsequently criticized her to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, the Spring Garden Township Police Department in York, Pa., and the Baltimore Police Department. Ms. Jordan contends she received a letter from the Metropolitan Police Department rejecting her for giving false statements and for having been thrown out of a law enforcement agency. In addition, she said the Spring Garden department rejected her, claiming that she "was asked to resign and did not leave for personal reasons." Ms. Jordan filed the federal case in November. The defendants sought dismissal, claiming, among other defenses, that the action was time barred since Ms. Jordan was terminated from the academy on Feb. 1, 2007, and did not file her lawsuit until Nov. 22, 2010; that the litigation is barred by the stipulated settlement; and that the Title IX claims are deficient in that they fail to establish a direct, educational relationship with the college since her attendance was prior to the settlement. Judge Telesca rejected those arguments. On the statute of limitations, the judge found that Ms. Jordan had "sufficiently alleged a continued course of discriminatory conduct that, if proven, could constitute a policy or mechanism of gender discrimination sufficient to toll the statute of limitations." He also found that the settlement does not bar the federal action since Ms. Jordan has sufficiently pleaded that the defendants breached the agreement. And the judge said that dismissing the Title IX claim at this time would undermine the thrust of the anti-discrimination law. "Defendants apparently request this court to dismiss plaintiff's claims of discrimination and retaliation because some of their actions took place after she was terminated," Judge Telesca wrote. "Such an interpretation of Title IX would defeat the remedial purpose of the statute." A.J. Bosman of Rome, Oneida County, represents Ms. Jordan. Corning Community College is represented by James F. Young of Sayles & Evans in Elmira. John Caher can be contacted at

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