A former Gallatin Police Department officer of the year has filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming she was forced to resign earlier this year as a result of retaliation she experienced after reporting “pervasive gender bias against women in the workplace.”
In the suit, filed against the City of Gallatin in the United States District Court last month, Emily Stockdale alleges that she first complained to department leadership about a “culture of bullying and disrespect” in June 2018.
“In her memo she criticized the police department for a “buddy-buddy” system where men were rewarded and women were not, a toxic environment for non-management officers, and that a superior officer commented to her that “(expletive) work was for (expletive),”” according to the lawsuit.
Stockdale was first hired by the city to be a 911 dispatcher in October 2006. She later graduated from the police academy in August 2008 and was assigned as patrol officer. In May 2013, she was promoted to an investigator with the majority of her work involving child abuse cases.
The suit alleges that in a closed-door meeting with department leadership in June 2018, Stockdale specifically reported that male officers were allowed to violate city rules and policies without being disciplined and that a supervisor “treated female investigators in a derogatory manner, including heavily scrutinizing their investigative work publicly in a way he did not treat male officers.”
Less than two weeks later, she received her first written reprimand and was “demoted” to the patrol division which had “worse hours, required her to wear full-patrol gear including a duty belt, and was much more dangerous that her position as an investigator,” according to the lawsuit.
The reprimand related to following up on investigative leads in a timely manner and understanding that “holding DNA evidence for 42 days is unacceptable,” according to a review of Stockdale’s personnel file.
The suit also claims Stockdale was suspended for three days in August 2018 for failing to retrieve three rape kits even though she had already been moved to patrol duty and had no more duties in the department’s criminal investigation division.
While Gallatin City Attorney Susan High-McAuley and Police Chief Don Bandy declined to comment on the lawsuit, both referenced an internal investigation conducted the city’s human resources department that determined Stockdale’s claims of gender discrimination and retaliatory conduct were “not substantiated or supported by the evidence.”
As part of the city’s investigation, 19 employees were interviewed during a nine-day period in late August 2018.
“All female officers interviewed comment that there is no discrimination between males and females at the Gallatin Police Department,” according to the eight-page summary of the investigation obtained by the Gallatin News. “All female officers confirm that females and males are afforded the same opportunities.”
The report also claimed that Stockdale was not demoted but laterally transferred to a new position within the department and that she did not experience workplace bullying.
The superior who also made the “(expletive) work was for (expletive)” comment in 2013 did receive a verbal reprimand and had not made any additional inappropriate remarks since the initial remark, according to the report.
In June, Stockdale resigned from the police department “due to the discriminatory and retaliatory treatment” by the city and its “refusal to remedy systemic discrimination and relation,” according to the lawsuit.
In addition to a jury trial, she is also requesting back pay and damages for lost benefits; reinstatement or front pay; compensatory damages for embarrassment, humiliation, stress, anxiety, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life; punitive damages; and attorneys’ fees and expenses.
An initial case management hearing before Judge Aleta A. Trauger is scheduled to be held Oct. 7 in Nashville.