Woman sues city, police
A woman who worked as a community safety officer at the Aspen Police Department is suing the agency and the city, alleging she was fired because of her gender.Kimberly Hay’s lawsuit, filed Monday in district court, seeks more than $100,000 in damages. Her lawyer, John Case, said a claim has also been filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Division under the state’s anti-discrimination act.Hay, who has lived in Aspen for nearly two decades, worked at the police department for about six years before she was fired on Nov. 4, according to the lawsuit. It says she was the only female community safety officer in the department during her tenure.In an interview Monday night, she said the problems arose from her relationship with Charlie Martin, the department’s senior community safety officer.”I was treated differently by Charlie from the day I started,” Hay said.In May 2004, she was placed on “introductory status,” a type of employment probation, for trivial violations of procedure, the lawsuit says.”For example, [she] was reprimanded for taking 11 minutes to respond to a non-emergency call … when one of her job duties was to respond to calls within 10 minutes,” the court papers say.Case said Hay faced a separate standard from her male co-workers.”Her treatment was different from every other male community safety officer,” he said. “There is no doubt that she was treated differently.”In October, Hay was told to formulate a plan for implementing Aspen’s wildlife ordinance, which mandates bear-proof trash bins. The lawsuit calls the assignment “nearly impossible” because she had only four days to complete it.She worked on her days off and was finishing the report on the day it was due when Martin told her she had missed the deadline, according to the lawsuit.”She was typing it around noon on Monday when Martin strolled by and told her it was too late, that they had needed it that morning,” Case said.Three days later, Hay met with Police Chief Loren Ryerson “and was told she could resign or be terminated,” the lawsuit says, adding that she declined resigning and was terminated for insubordination.Last night, she talked about how she had gotten into the job, saying another former female CSO told her about it.”It was about a year later that I saw the position in the paper. I was tired of what I was doing, and I thought, ‘You know, that woman really liked her job.’ What she didn’t tell me was how much she didn’t like Charlie,” Hay said. “He doesn’t really like women. He doesn’t like working with them and working for them. He’s been forced to hire them. I think he was forced to hire me. I’ve talked to women who have worked with him in the past who have said he is awful to work with.”Martin did not return a message left at his home Monday night.But Hay said it was only in the final year of her job that the problems became exasperating.”In [my] last 10 months [on the job], for some reason, I was all of the sudden getting called on and written up for things that had been standard practice in the police department by everyone,” she said. “When I was trained I was told the beauty of this job is that you are kind of your own boss, you’re on your own time. All you have to do is be within the city limits, you respond to calls within five to 10 minutes, and you’re golden.”Anything else you do is your business – you can go to the post office, you can go to the bank, you can go and grab some groceries.”Asked who told her that that was standard procedure, she said, “The people who trained me.”Hay said she received numerous offers to become a patrol officer and “got glowing evaluations the first five-plus years.” She did say she was written up occasionally for being tardy.After her termination, she said city officials fought her for nearly five months on giving her unemployment benefits.The state civil rights agency has the power to order remedial measures, Case said, and “they are currently collecting information from the city.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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While the number of bears in Aspen has been manageable so far this summer, a lack of natural food sources could change that as fall approaches.