News :: Workplace

Lesbian NJ Cop Sues for Discrimination

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Monday May 14, 2012
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A lesbian policewoman from New Jersey is suing a local police department and the city after she was allegedly harassed and discriminated against, the Bergen (County, NJ) Record reported.

Regina Tasca, 45, filed a lawsuit against the Borough of Bogota in Bergen County, which is located in the northeastern corner of the state, across the Hudson River from Manhattan and the Bronx. She says that she has been belittled by other officers, passed over for promotions, denied overtime and her locker was vandalized a number of times.

"When you first get out of the academy, you’re gung-ho," Tasca said in an interview. "No matter what I did, it was an issue. It was like, ’You’re writing too many tickets. You are making too many DWI arrests.’ I thought that was what I was supposed to do."

The lawsuit claims the harassment sent Tasca into a depression and that there was a hostile work environment that was so bad that she ended up in the hospital on two occasions for work-related stress.

Officials from the police department claim that the policewoman did not perform her job duties as she allegedly failed to assist a fellow officer when he struggled with an intoxicated woman who later attacked him. The department also says that Tasca interfered when two cops tried to detain the emotionally disturbed son of a Bogota councilwoman.

The borough wants Tasca fired. She has been suspended with pay since May 2011, after the department ordered a psychological exam and found her unfit for duty.

Tasca and her lawyer, Catherine Elston, argue that the borough wants her fired because she is a woman and because she "interfered to halt what she viewed as excessive force," the article notes. Jonathan Nirenberg, the plaintiff’s attorney in civil case, says he wants Tasca to continue working at the department but with full seniority and all the benefits to which she claims to be entitled. The lawyer is also seeking damages for "severe emotional as well as the economic harm that the discrimination and harassment and retaliation has cost her." The amount of money he is seeking has not been disclosed.

One of the defendants is Sgt. Robert Piterski -- a longtime friend of the police officer. Tasca accused him of telling a resident that she was a lesbian and a number of the other charges, including asking her to sign inaccurate overtime forms. But Piterski denies the charges "one million percent."

He also said that the other officers treated Tasca fairly.

"More than fairly," he told the website. "Over and above."

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