Arroyo Grande police officer alleges sexual harassment

December 20, 2011

Mayor Tony Ferrara

By KAREN VELIE

Contentious claims of a culture of sexual discrimination and harassment have resulted in the first of three proposed lawsuits against the city of Arroyo Grande, its police department and Chief Steve Annibali winding its way through the system.

Arroyo Grande police officer Kimberely Martin filed a lawsuit in September 2010 detailing many allegations of sexual discrimination and harassment that have allegedly occurred since Annibali was hired in 2007.

Problems began, according to the lawsuit, when Martin and two other female officers reported to their superiors in May 2007 that officer Barry Bridge was sexually harassing them. The women said Bridge would make offensive and demeaning remarks to them.

And while Annibali offered Bridge a full retirement with no disciplinary actions, city officials admonished the women for making the allegations, the lawsuit says.

At a mandatory department meeting, Mayor Tony Ferrara chastised the women for making allegations of sexual harassment he suspected were “possibly a misunderstanding and would be cleared up soon,” the lawsuit says. The three female officers asked Annibali to discuss the “mayor’s misguided comments, which he refused to do.”

State laws prohibit mayors and council members from giving direction to staff aside from the city attorney and city manager.

Annibali did not return several requests for comment.

The complaint also alleges Annibali promoted male officers ahead of female officers with equal or more qualifications. In addition, Martin’s claims of sexual discrimination include allegations of preferential treatment to male officers which include the freedom to strip down to their T-shirts at the shooting range while the women are required to wear their uniform tops and vests, and regular grooming checks required for female officers.

The city filed a response to the allegations in October 2010 arguing that Martin had “failed to list facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action against the answering defendants.”

Sources tell CalCoastNews that this is the first of three proposed lawsuits by officers alleging sexual discrimination as well as harassment of male supervisors unwilling to treat female subordinates differently than their  male counterparts.

Martin, with more than 13 years with the department, was awarded the reserve officer of the year award in 2000 and the police officer of the year award in 2002.

A post mediation status conference is scheduled for April 1, 2012.


14 Comments

  1. As the world turns says:

    Do research on the City of Arroyo Grande’s past sexual harassment lawsuits and claims, including with
    the Police Department.

    Sexual harassment appears to be a reoccurring issue with this city.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Russ J says:

    Nothing will top the McLintock cooks of AG, who gave the waitresses non-stop entertainment back in the kitchen. At the end of it all, those gals saw quite a payday. Good luck City taxpayers; you’re gonna need it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. oto says:

    Slotime,
    As for your comment, “More public money going down the drain…”,
    You may be surprised to find out that some of your relatives feel the same way about you, every time they make you dinner…

    (Hello?! Is anybody in there!? I just paid 8.5% sales tax on this turkey dinner, and you sound like Mr. Potatoehead!)

    Look at it this way:

    A happy workplace makes workers more productive.
    Equal pay for equal work gives people self confidence and the financial ability to help others.

    If someone is given that which is due to them, in terms of recognition for their training and work experience, it makes their co-workers more likely to cooperate with each other.

    On the other hand, when coworkers compete with each other in ways that are negative, it puts a drain on the department’s “man hours” and resources. LESS work gets done in the same amount of time.

    I am sure that competition in the workplace goes into high gear in the law enforcement environment. That is the nature of the job. That is the nature of those who apply for, and are given the job.

    What type of competition is going to help them advance in their job, and in their own defense?

    Competition that is negative, such as “I don’t like you because you are good at what you do. Therefore, I am going to sabotage your progress any way I can,” does not lead to excellence.

    There are different forms of competition:

    “I want to know as much as you.
    I want to be as good as you are at your job.
    Therefore, I am going to study, work out, establish a positive relationship with my co-workers, and
    do whatever I can do to advance in a way that will prepare us
    to meet adversity shoulder to shoulder and side by side
    when the sh– hits the fan in the course of our jobs.”

    Being able to delegate assignments in a way that allows each employee, male or female, to perfect h/er UNIQUE abilities, and TRAIN in areas that need improvement, SAVES money in the long run.

    Less sick days.
    Less medical bills.
    Less prescription drugs.

    These are UNION jobs. Therefore, the law giving EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to these workers was established long ago.

    SUPERVISORS AND ADMINISTRATORS drain our public funds when they fail to implement the law, and provide proper WORKPLACE TRAINING and EFFECTIVE grievance procedures, BUT INSTEAD,

    continue to engage in outdated (harassing) employment practices.

    This discussion is long overdue in San Luis Obispo County.

    Because the “status quo” appears to be entrenched in CERTAIN types of employment in the public sector, it may take a legal suit to POINT OUT who actually suffered financial harm in this workplace situation.

    In order to decide who is the “drain on public funds,” you have to know the facts and circumstances of THAT workplace, and THOSE job dutes, and THE responsibilities of each worker in question.

    AS A MATTER OF LAW, there must be an EFFECTIVE grievance procedure. But if the workplace does not provide that remedy, then your next step is an administrative hearing or a lawsuit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

    • slowtime says:

      Why the personal attack? My one line comment did not mean I condone discrimination. Quite the contrary; I am sick of wasting money for our leaders using there positions to bully others.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  4. oto says:

    SLOWTIME,
    THAT’S WHY SUPERVISORS AND EMPLOYERS WHO SEXUALLY DISCRIMINATE BY CREATING A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT SHOULD BE HELD BOTH PERSONALLY LIABLE AND AS THE EMPLOYER’S AGENT.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  5. Bob says:

    There is nothing fair & balanced about Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara.

    He is the worst politician in the in south county and the leader of covering up all the troubles over at the sanitation district. Nothing Ferrara has to say is trustworthy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

    • SLOChuck says:

      I couldn’t agree more. The man tells lies as easily as he breathes.
      The way he streamrolls over the citizens, the public employees that work underneath him and the media is deplorable.
      Anyone know why, when he is universally hated, he keeps getting re-elected?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

    • oto says:

      “It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.”

      And I ain’t talkin’ about the Mayor’s job….

      HALLELUJA! … HALLELUJA! HALLELUJA!….HA–LLE–EE–LUJA!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. Cindy says:

    I ran across some articles that raised my eyebrows a bit. Although Zak was the only K9 dog in the local 5 cities (not county, but cities) and Kim Martin was the K9 officer for 5 years, they decided to retire the dog without a replacement and no funds to replace the dog and no health issues with the dog, in other words no reason. This is all stated by one of the Captains who she/Kim maintains engaged in the harassment (see links to articles). The Captain claims that the dog should simply have a nice early retirement and enjoy it!!! The Captain also diminishes Kimberly’s importance as the K9 handler over the last 5 years (of the only PD dog in the 5 cities) by placing the spot light on a PREVIOUS MALE K9 handler!!

    Her law suit claims that they decided to retire the dog out of the blue and as a consequence she lost 8 hours of pay each month and her take home car. She was also required to work graveyard shift every weekend without one single weekend off ever (not even one weekend a year off) despite having children. Read how ridiculous the Captain sounds about the dogs retirement, it doesn’t even make sense. Notice how he mentions that when they get a new dog, they will designate a new handler! This was all after she had complained about the sexual harassment but months before she left the department, was injured or filed a law suit.

    http://positiveleo.wordpress.com

    SEE the story about the dog named: Zak Alois Anrebri at
    http://www.zoominfo.com/#!sear

    P.S. Did anyone notice how the city mentioned to the Tribune that she was investigated by the DA? That is not a part of her law suit and I have to believe they are intentionally attempting to disparage her with that public statement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 10

    • SLOChuck says:

      Ferrara did the same thing when the Sewer Drama was circulating. As soon as the two dismissed employees filed suit, all of a sudden they were “poor employees,” “liars,” and then, when the employees were proved to be exemplary employees (winning awards, and leaders within the field, etc.,) all of a sudden he’s mysteriously claiming the two had an affair. Ridiculous!
      Ferrara is a joke. …And sadly the punchline is at the expense of the citizens of AG.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

    • Cindy says:

      These are not the links that I posted with this story. Neither link opens to the story I was attempting to share and I guess someone tried to reformat them and now they don’t open correctly. If anyone wants to see these two articles, especially the one at positiveleo (it’s quite amusing) you can locate this identical post over in the Tribuune. Those links work fine.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  7. RU4Real says:

    Anyone who “claims” there is no “discrimination” (sexual & otherwise) toward women in law enforcement positions are not living in the REAL WORLD. Discrimination & harassment is alive & well in MOST law enforcement agencies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 9

    • danika says:

      Discrimination and harassment is alive and well in MOST occupations, not just law enforcement agencies.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  8. slowtime says:

    Ah… More public money going down the drain…!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

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