A Suffolk County Superior Court Judge has found in favor of a female Winthrop Police officer who filed a discrimination case against the town and its police chief. She was awarded damages of just over $2.3 million
After a two-week-long jury trial Justice Karen F. Green denied the Town’s summary judgment request and ruled in favor of Officer 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.
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.
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 by Town Manager James McKenna.
Racow became a full-time police officer in 1995, as well as 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.
In December 2013 Racow filed discrimination charges with the MCAD alleging sex discrimination and retaliation. She withdrew the complaint in September 2014, and later in the year, she refiled a new complaint that the Town’s response to her alleged misconduct was more severe than alleged misconduct of other male officers. She also claimed that complaints about working conditions were not taken as seriously, and that she was allegedly denied special assignments, training and other benefits awarded to less-qualified colleagues.
Racow also claims that she was passed over becoming a motorcycle officer, school resource officer and K-9 officer.
The Town’s attorney argue that Racow failed to present sufficient evidence in support of her discrimination and retaliation claims. The judge disagreed.
“Starting at the first stage, it is undisputed that as a woman, Racow is a member of a protected class,” wrote Judge Green.
Racow’s attorneys Beth Myers and Jonathan Margolis, of Powers, Jodoin, Margolis & Matell said the trial started March 5 and ended March 21.
“We hope this sends a message to the town to change your ways so this doesn’t happen again. It’s not appropriate,” Myers said. “This was a hard fought case and it took a lot for Judy to fight the entire time. I commend her.”
Town Manager and Police Chief Terence Delehany declined comment on the case, deferring to the town’s attorney Jeremy Silverfine, of Perkins, Brody, Hardon and Kesten in Boston.
“Of course we are disappointed,” Silverfine said, adding that there will be an appeal.
This is the second discrimination case to stem from the police department in 20 years.
-The town does plan on an appeal.