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Female Superior Officers Claim Discrimination
Officers Want Separate Break, Locker Room From Subordinates

Story by Boston Channel

BOSTON -- Female commanders in the Massachusetts State Police and Boston police have filed a discrimination complaint claiming they have been discriminated against when it comes to break room and locker room facilities.

NewsCenter 5's Janet Wu reported that superior female officers say they were told that they can use the same locker rooms as the women they command, while male sergeants and lieutenants have separate facilities at some locations.

"I was really shocked at first, and after that, I just felt that it just showed a total lack of respect. And I was concerned with how the police officers would also be looking at this, at the difference in how the male supervisors are treated versus the female supervisors, " said Boston police Sgt. Debra Gifford.

For State Police Sgt. Susan Rottenberg, assigned to the Logan Airport barracks, the issue is more complicated. Although there is a break room for both superior male and female officers at Logan, she would have to walk through the male dressing area, which she is unwilling to do. She wrote a letter asking for a separate locker area and a separate entrance to the break room. She did not get a reply.

"Like an outcast, not an equal, it is unfair treatment. Not being treated the same. Somebody writes a letter to the top chain of command at the airport, I would think I would get some kind of response from somebody," said Rottenberg.

Rottenberg filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Gifford has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court. Boston police initially responded to Gifford by suggesting they would take away the locker areas for superior male officers.

"That is not the right response to deal with a complaint of sex disparity. The way you make things equal is to give the women what the men have had for decades and decades. You don't provoke a backlash," said Gifford.

Gifford said she recently became hopeful that an agreement would be reached before her lawsuit goes to trial. Her attorney and union representative recently met with Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole, who reportedly told them she is committed to resolving the issue.

Rottenberg, however, may have a longer legal battle ahead.

Both state and Boston officials were not available for comment Thursday.
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