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Minnesota Police Officer Settles Retaliation Lawsuit

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In January 2008, a female police officer in the City of North Branch filed a complaint with the city. The complaint stated that the Chief of Police at the time, who retired last July, had sexually harassed her. That spring, the officer was vindicated by an outside investigator. However, the Police Chief appealed the decision, and the City reversed its decision against him.

The chief maintained his position of authority over the female officer who had filed the complaint. He then began spreading rumors about her and retaliating against her for filing the complaint. The officer then complained to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights found that there was evidence supporting her claim of retaliation. This week, the officer and the City of North Branch reached a settlement agreement that will keep the case out of court.

The police officer followed every procedure exactly as she should have. She expressed her concern about sexual harassment to the proper authority in North Branch. When she felt that she was experiencing retaliation, she reported it to the Department of Human Rights. Both of these actions were well within her rights as a city employee.

During their investigation, the Department of Human Rights determined that the former chief was "targeting her" after she filed the sexual harassment complaint. They pointed out that the chief refused to let the officer driver a squad car home on one occasion. They also said that he impacted her ability to earn money by removing her from an overtime shift.

In this week's settlement, the City of North Branch did not admit any wrongdoing. However, they did compensate the female officer for the suspected retaliation. According to the city's attorney, "It [was] in everyone's best interest to settle the case."

Source: Star Tribune, "North Branch settles retaliation claim for $60,000," Lora Pabst, 10 Nov 2010

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