Sexual harassment lawsuits filed by two female San Diego Police Department officers are heading to trial. Recent court documents show attempts to settle the two cases have failed and both sides are now preparing for a 2017 trial.
Officer Denise Mills filed her lawsuit against the police department and City of San Diego in November 2015. Mills says she was discriminated against for becoming pregnant in 2009. As reported by the Reader, a sergeant in her department informed her that her job might be gone when she returned from maternity leave. When she returned to work after leave, Mills noticed that her colleagues had allegedly broken into her desk and removed files. Mills filed a formal complaint and was later transferred to the juvenile services unit.
Treatment at her new post wasn't much better. In 2014, Mills became pregnant again. Her supervisor allegedly accused her of waiting too long to notify him. Not much later she noticed her supervisors began to lighten her workload. She filed yet another formal complaint. In early 2015 she hired defense attorney Daniel Gilleon to represent her.
On October 17, 2016, a court-appointed mediator brought on to broker a settlement notified the court that attorneys for each side could not reach an agreement. A week later the case was listed as not settled. A trial date is set for July 28, 2017.
It was the second instance so far this year that attorneys for the city and Gilleon failed to hash out agreements in a sexual harassment case against the San Diego Police Department. In July 2016, a court-appointed mediator notified the court that the two sides failed to reach an agreement in a case brought by a former homicide detective, Dana Hoover, who claimed she was mistreated solely on the grounds of her gender.
In her lawsuit, filed in 2014 and also reported by the Reader, Hoover said her male coworkers often referred to women on the force as "pieces of shit." Hoover said male officers would shut her out of crime scenes, yelled at her in front of her colleagues, and began making "grunting" sounds whenever she spoke.
"[The San Diego Police Department] is run by what can be classified as a 'good old boy network' where those who are part [of] the team are promoted, treated favorably, and left alone," read Hoover's complaint. "However, those who are not part of the 'good old boy network' who raise issues and concerns are shunted, bullied and treated unfairly, discriminatorily, in a retaliatory manner and set aside."
With no settlement in sight, San Diego Superior Court judge Katherine Bacal has set a trial date for February 24, 2017.
The two sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuits are the latest to plague San Diego's police department over the course of the past several years. As reported by online news organization, Voice of San Diego, the city settled three other lawsuits for a reported $120,000. In two of those lawsuits, male officers working in the sex-crimes division were said to have hung up inappropriate photos of women inside their cubicles and often joked about drugging women. According to the news report, several of the same officers in the earlier lawsuits had been transferred to the homicide department and had worked alongside Hoover when she first noticed the harassment.