Town Begins Process to Appeal Discrimination Case

The Town of Winthrop will appeal a jury’s decision in favor of a female Winthrop police officer who was awarded $2.3 million gender discrimination case.

Officer Judy Racow filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination case with claims of being looked over for various assignments.

Racow filed a discrimination case with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) in 2006 after then police chief David Goldstein put her back in the patrol division for “budgetary concerns”. In 2008 she was placed back in the detective unit after entering into a settlement with the town. In 2009, Terence Delehanty was appointed the police chief in 2009 by Town Manager James McKenna.

Town Council President Ron Vecchia said the town has begun the appeal process. The Town Council met in executive session prior to their regular meeting Tuesday night to discuss the appeal. The town will continue to use attorney Jeremy Silverfine, of Perkins, Brody, Hardon and Kesten in Boston.

Delehanty, who has been police chief and the interim town manager, was in negotiations for becoming full-time manager. Two weeks ago he stated he was not interested in the position and now will serve as interim town manager until a full-time town manager can be found. Delehanty said he wants to concentrate on being the police chief.

At Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting a couple of residents came forward to express their opinions.

“I have great sympathy for each and every one of you. You work other jobs, do this part time and we do the best we can do. I am stunned, stunned by the silence with respect to the lawsuit this town has lost,” said resident Joe Aiello. “It’s the second discriminatory lawsuit with a town employee in the last 20 years. ($5 million) for the two cases we know of. Five million dollars of my money and taxpayers money. We need to change the way we do business and there are going to be consequences for that kind of behavior. I don’t understand the silence.”

Aiello went on the ask for a transparent process in finding the next town manager.

“The trust is broken between town government and its citizens,” Aiello said. “The way to cure it is to have a full transparent process for the next town manager. Make sure we can all see what happening.”

“The systematic discrimination in Winthrop can no longer be ignored,” said resident Stephanie Recchia, One Winthrop. (See letter on page 4).

After a two-week long jury trial, from March 5-21, Justice Karen F. Green decided in favor of Judy Racow, who has been on the force for 23 years. The 12-member jury and two alternates found that Racow had been discriminated against on account of her sex. It also found that the Town of Winthrop did retaliate against Racow.

Racow became a full-time police officer in 1995 and became the first female detective in the department. It is noted that the term “Detective” is a title, not a rank. Detectives are not ranked higher than a patrol officer. In 2013 Racow was reassigned from the detective unit to the patrol division. During testimony Delehanty testified that he removed Racow from the unit in part “for compromising” an investigation and to separate her from another officer. Racow also claims she was passed over for becoming a motorcycle officer, school resource officer and K-9 officer.

Damages were awarded to Racow for discrimination and/or retaliation in the amount of $676,000. The amount of punitive damages to be awarded to Racow total $1,352,000.

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