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Female Officer Sues City of Markham, Police Department for Gender Discrimination

— March 23, 2020

The city of Markham and the police department were recently named in a gender discrimination case filed by Monique Woods.

Monique Woods, a Markam police officer, recently filed a lawsuit against the department and city over allegations that she was “harassed, refused time off and denied the equipment she needed for training because of her gender.” The federal suit was filed earlier this month and further claims that even though she has so far met the department’s expectations, “she was treated less favorably than her male colleagues.” Her suit also alleges she was “removed from her assignment, passed over for promotion, denied adequate equipment and refused time off, among other slights.”

Image of a Workplace Discrimination Graphic
Workplace Discrimination Graphic; image courtesy of mohamed_hassan via Pixabay,

On one occasion in 2018, Woods attended a two-day training session and allegedly requested a “simulation handgun, ammunition, a face shield and eye, and ear protection” for the training but never received it. However, two of her male co-workers attending the training did receive the equipment. It’s worth noting that Woods is one of four female Markham officers who “have filed Illinois Department of Human Rights complaints against the city and its Police Department since October 2018, when Chief Terry White assumed his current role.”

In all four complaints, the officers argued that “White demoted them or took them off special assignments, refused to allow them to attend trainings, switched their shifts involuntarily, refused to let them take days off, and generally treated them with disdain and disrespect.” After each complaint, the Department of Human Rights conducted an investigation. In Woods’ case, however, the department determined her claims lacked substantial evidence.

When commenting on her treatment, Woods said she “felt scared, uncertain about her future and unwelcome at the police station, but was committed to seeking a legal resolution to her situation, even if it resulted in retaliation.” She added, “The only thing we want is to be treated right, to be treated fairly. That’s all.”

She also said she was upset that the IDHR failed to find evidence of discrimination and “didn’t agree with how the agency conducted its investigation.” For example, she claims the investigators didn’t interview all her witnesses and “spoke to some of them on a conference call with superior officers who are loyal to the chief.” She said, “Do you really think the witnesses are going to say the truth? They’re afraid of retaliation.”

Of the witnesses included in the IDHR report, only a handful of the ones Woods wanted to be interviewed actually were, including White, his deputy chief, and five others. “Two other officers told the agency they did not wish to participate in the investigation, three did not respond to the agency’s attempts to reach them and a union business agent was not contacted because his non-work contact information was not provided.”


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