ANNA — A discrimination lawsuit was filed last week with the U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio in Dayton against the Village of Anna and Police Chief Scott Evans.
Sarah Puckett claims that when she was hired in 2013 as a part-time police officer for the Village of Anna, she wasn’t sworn in after she informed the chief she was pregnant.
Evans promised Puckett that after she gave birth she would be sworn in, according to the lawsuit. After she gave birth in September 2013, she was still not sworn in and claims that she was ignored by the city and Evans. Puckett claims she called the chief numerous times, sent an email to Anna Mayor Robert Anderson and appeared at a village council meeting.
According to the complaint, male applicants were hired and sworn in during this time frame even though Puckett had passed all the pre-employment steps it takes to become a police officer in the village.
Puckett is requesting injunctive relief, which is, according to Cornell University Law School, a discretionary power of the court in which the court, upon deciding that the plaintiff’s rights are being violated, balances the irreparability of injuries and inadequacy of damages if an injunction were not granted against the damages that granting an injunction would cause.
She also is requesting full back pay, past, present and future wages and benefits, court costs, attorney fees and compensatory and punitive damages totaling $500,000.
Employment discrimination law attorney, Francis J. Landry of Toledo is representing Puckett in this suit. He declined comment because he said the case is still in the beginning phases.
This is not the first time Evans’ credibility and professionalism have come under question. As the Sidney Daily News reported in January 2013, he was given six months to relocate his residence from near Piqua into Anna or resign his position. When he did not comply, he was put on 10-day administrative leave in August 2013.
Evans was put on administrative leave again at the end of August 2013, this time for 60 days after questions were raised about his mental health, loyalty to the village and ability to complete tasks he was responsible for as police chief.
A fitness-for-duty examination — including blood alcohol, drug and psychological testing — were done at this time and also had been done at his previous employer, the Minster Police Department.
One examination found he was “tense” and “frustrated” and his behavior control was described as “somewhat unstable” and “expedient.”
The other examination found Evans was described as “neither particularly dependable” and “particularly sloppy.”
Evans was also described as an “unacceptable candidate” for a “public safety position,” and it noted he had “chronic ineffectiveness.” The report stated Evans “may not consistently work well as part of a team.”
According to the Sidney Daily News archives, records from Sidney Municipal Court indicate disciplinary action, as do records from Minster Police Department.
Evans also had asked the FBI to investigate what he claimed were irregularities in the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. It was said that Evans had failed to adequately investigate the claims before calling the FBI.
Also in 2013, the village council discussed disbanding the police department and entering into a contract with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Police officer Lynn Marsee, who served as acting chief when Evans was on leave, resigned when Evans returned, citing concerns about threats or retaliation.
Messages were left Thursday for Puckett, Evans and Mayor Anderson. Emails were also sent to all village council members asking for comments.
This lawsuit comes at a popular time for pregnancy discrimination lawsuits. According to NPR, last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a woman suing UPS for pregnancy discrimination.
This week, a federal jury sided with Merck & Co. Inc. in a case involving one of its former executives being denied a promotion and subsequently losing her job because of a pregnancy, according to ThinkProgress.
Also this week, a federal judge awarded a pregnancy discrimination victim almost $75,000 in back pay and damages following a decision finding United Bible Fellowship Ministries Inc. liable for pregnancy discrimination, according to the National Law Review.