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Back to Sonoma County Sheriff Sex Descrimination

Attorney Press Release - September 21, 2005


The Federal Sex Discrimination lawsuit filed against the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department in March 2005 by Sheriff's Department female officers has TRIUMPHED in its first major legal hurdle. Federal Judge Charles Breyer has denied the Sheriff's Department's Motion to Dismiss and the case will now proceed to discovery. (Please see attached first Press Release for overview of lawsuit)

Judge Breyer has ruled that both the Sheriff's Department and 14 individually named Command Staff must now ANSWER the lawsuit's allegations of Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Retaliation.

Judge Breyer denied the Sheriff's Department's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, refused the Sheriff's request to strike the long history of sex discrimination claims against the Department, and refused the Sheriff's request to strike the December 22, 2004 letter of sex discrimination complaints to Sheriff Cogbill signed by all remaining female Deputies.

Two additional Command Staff, Lieutenant Roger Rude and Sergeant Steve Brown, have been added to the lawsuit as Sexual Harassment defendants.

Since the lawsuit was filed, another female Deputy has left the Sheriff's Department, citing stressful working conditions. This veteran female law enforcement officer was a Detective in the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault unit.

This reduces the number of female sworn Deputies in the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department to 12 females out of a total of 243 sworn Deputies (a mere 4.9% of the Department's total sworn Deputies).

Timeline of Relevant Events:

On August 5, 2005, Judge Charles Breyer issued an Order DENYING defendants' MOTION TO DISMISS plaintiff's original COMPLAINT for Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Retaliation.

September 2, 2005: Plaintiffs filed a FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT for Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Retaliation, etc. Plaintiffs named two new individual defendants, Lieutenant Roger Rude (the County's named "Spokesperson" to respond to plaintiffs' Complaint) and Sergeant Steve Brown. Both these supervisors romantically pursued plaintiff Lauren Ferrara, despite her objections, during her employment with the Department.

September 15, 2005: Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, and individually named Command Staff, filed a joint ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT of plaintiffs Lauren Ferrara and Robin Smith.

Contact: Desiree O. Cox
Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs
Attached: First Press Release

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