NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A former Metro Nashville Police officer has been awarded $300,000 after she filed a lawsuit detailing years of sexual harassment she experienced at the hands of her male colleagues.
The lawsuit, filed in February 2020, stated that after she began working for the police department in 2015, the woman was immediately exposed to a “sexually hostile work environment.” The harassment began with one of her field training officers looking through her phone for “naughty pictures.”
Over several years, Training Academy Staff, including firearms instructors, and many of her fellow officers made repeated sexual comments about the woman, calling her a “dirty girl,” and stating, “everything on you has gotten so big,” with some asking her to send nude photos of herself.
Other supervisors and officers also tried to get her to meet up with them to have sex. According to the lawsuit, one of the woman’s supervisors told her he was “willing to exchange personal and professional favors” if she gave him massages or sent him pictures.
The lawsuit also stated that the woman had been warned on multiple occasions that reporting sexual harassment “would only cause her problems.” After an officer she was training in mid-2019 also began sexually harassing her, the woman talked to one of her female supervisors, who tried to convince her not to file a report.
Another supervisor told her to go ahead and file a report, but to make sure that she said she felt “uncomfortable” rather than “sexually harassed” so that the offending officer would not be fired.
After she decided to report the officer, the lawsuit said he began making reports about her in retaliation. Ultimately, the police department decided to suspend the officer in training for one day for sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, the woman received notification of a four-day suspension for “failure of devoting entire time to duty” and “deficient or inefficient performance of duties.”
During the investigation, the woman said she was asked deep, personal questions that were unrelated to the claims against her. The woman’s lawsuit eventually went to trial, with a jury ruling against the police department.
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Despite the jury wanting to give her $450,000 in compensatory damages, the woman was only awarded $300,000 because of a Tennessee law limiting the amount of damages that can be awarded for emotional pain, suffering, future monetary losses and more.
In an emailed statement, the Metro Department of Law said, “We are disappointed in the outcome at trial, as the vast majority of what was alleged was never reported to the department. The MNPD does not tolerate sexual harassment in any form, and encourages employees, through training as well as flyers posted throughout the department, to report any issues.”
The woman’s lawsuit preceded more than three dozen allegations of sexual harassment within the police department, which came to light in Aug. 2020 after an advocacy group called Silent No Longer presented the misconduct claims.