The City of San Diego will pay $175,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a San Diego police officer who said her supervisors discriminated against her for becoming pregnant.
On August 1, city councilmembers are set to approve the judgement and issue Mills the check.
Mills filed her lawsuit in November 2015. Problems began when Mills notified her supervisors she was pregnant in 2009. Her ranking officer, Sergeant Martha Sainz, warned her that she may not have her job when she returned from leave. Sergeant Sainz, according to the lawsuit, also began calling Mills, "Dennis" instead of her real first name, Denise.
While on leave Mills discovered that her desk had been broken into and files were missing. She submitted a formal complaint but nothing was done. Weeks later, Mills was ordered to clean out her desk and to report to her new job in the Juvenile Services Unit.
Then in 2014 Mills became pregnant again. She informed her supervisor, a Sergeant Gutierrez (first name unknown). Gutierrez allegedly reprimanded Mills for waiting so long in her term to notify him. She responded that she was worried she would have another miscarriage and needed to make sure the baby was healthy before providing notice. In the following weeks Gutierrez began taking duties away from Mills. She filed another formal complaint and informed assistant chief Todd Jarvis that she considered hiring an attorney. Jarvis reportedly responded by telling her that doing so would jeopardize her career. Mills then hired attorney Dan Gilleon who later filed a discrimination lawsuit against the department.
The case progressed and despite the aid of a mediator, the two sides failed to reach an agreement during an October 2016 mediation. A judge set the trial date for July 28, 2017. According to the Superior Court docket, the two sides reached a settlement agreement on June 22.
News of the settlement comes as the city grapples with a twenty-year low in the number of officers. The officer shortage, as reported by NBC7, prompted city official to renegotiate the city's contract with the police union. The officer shortage has been blamed on low wages and high recruitment from other municipalities.