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Groton Town officer claiming discrimination

By Greg Smith

Publication: The Day

Published January 04. 2013 4:00AM

Groton - A 54-year-old police officer with the Groton Town department has filed an age and gender-related discrimination complaint, claiming her demotion from sergeant and suspension this year was retaliation for complaints she filed against her supervisors.

Officer Kathleen Doyle filed the complaint in November with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

Doyle, employed by the department since 1985, was demoted from the rank of sergeant to a patrol officer on Sept. 6 with an accompanying five-day suspension and a drop in pay of about $8,700 a year.

The disciplinary action was the result of an internal investigation into Doyle's work performance and came shortly after she applied for a promotion to lieutenant, according to her complaint.

She claims the demotion harkens back to the discrimination complaint she filed in 2007 against former Groton Town Police Chief Kelly Fogg after she was passed over for a promotion to sergeant. She had argued at the time she was being discriminated against because of her sex and age.

A settlement with the town and her eventual promotion to the rank of sergeant in 2008 came in the weeks leading up to a mediation conference with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, she said in her complaint.

Since her promotion, Doyle alleges she has been the target of harassment by supervisor Stephen Sinagra. In her complaint, she said she has been subject to "verbal counseling, warnings and reprimands, as well as constant monitoring, excessive scrutiny and unwarranted criticism of my performance."

Doyle worked under Sinagra until 2010 and claims the alleged "harassment or retaliatory treatment" continued while working under supervisor James Bee.

Doyle filed a grievance against Bee in February, claiming he was "creating a hostile work environment." An internal investigation into the complaint was completed in April by Deputy Chief Steven Smith and found to be without merit, according to Doyle's complaint.

Doyle said shortly after her grievance was rejected she was informed by Chief Michael Crowley that she was under investigation. The announcement of the investigation came around the same time Doyle said had applied for a promotion the lieutenant's position.

She was informed in July she had not been selected for promotion and claims Crowley asked her during her interview if she was looking for another job and when she planned to leave, according to the complaint.

A month later, Crowley informed her that an investigation into her "work performance deficiencies and misconduct" during the months of June and July of 2012 was completed and she was going to be demoted for reasons that included unsatisfactory performance in her role as patrol supervisor, failure to report for duty and failure to obey the direct order from a supervisor.

Prior to her demotion, Doyle said she was contacted by town attorney Eileen Duggan, who inquired about her interest in retiring.

Doyle and a representative from the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities at their regional office in Norwich could not be reached for comment.

Chief Crowley declined comment, citing the pending complaint.

g.smith@theday.com

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