A female lifeguard is suing the City of San Diego for gender discrimination — the fifth such lawsuit filed by female lifeguards over the past ten years.
The suit, filed on February 9 by lifeguard Amanda Scarski, accuses the city of refusing to promote her from a seasonal to a full-time position due to her gender.
The complaint was filed nearly one year to the day since the city agreed to pay $976,000 to settle a similar claim from lifeguard Allison Terry, who also charged the city with refusing to promote her from part-time to a full-time position in 2009.
In May 2015, San Diego's city auditor recommended that the lifeguard division strive to be more diverse in regards to gender and pointed out that only 16 percent of lifeguards in the City of San Diego were females.
"Historically, Lifeguard Services is a predominately Caucasian male workforce," reads the audit. "We found that the Lifeguard Services can better strategize ways to improve its conformance with the labor force availability by recruiting more Hispanic and female individuals."
In the Sarski case, documents note that she was hired as a seasonal lifeguard in March 2009. She first began applying for a full-time position in 2013 and continued to do so for two consecutive years; each time, her applications were rejected.
"Scarski's gender was a substantially motivating reason for the City's failure to promote her to the position of Lifeguard II," reads the complaint.
According to the complaint, the city is aware of the gender gap, despite the million-plus dollars in legal settlements against it.
The city's inaction is seen in its appeal of Allison Terry's lawsuit. On April 10, 2014, a judge asked deputy city attorney Kristin Zlotnik whether the city had addressed its discriminatory employment practices.
According to court transcripts, Zlotnik responded that she did not know. The admission, writes Scarski's attorney Michael Conger in the complaint, shows "the city's utter indifference to correcting its discriminatory employment conduct."
Conger has represented all five of the women lifeguards who have brought suit against the city in the past decade.
The lawsuit will make its way through San Diego Superior Court.
(corrected/revised 2/14, 12:45 p.m.)