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Department of Justice
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Friday, January 30, 2009

Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Alleging Gender Discrimination and Retaliation by the Puerto Rico Police Department

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a consent decree with the Policía de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Police Department or PRPD) that will, if approved by the federal district court, resolve a complaint the Department filed in March 2008 alleging that the PRPD engaged in unlawful employment discrimination based on gender and retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin and religion, and also prohibits retaliation against persons for filing charges of discrimination.

The U.S. government alleged in its March 2008 complaint that the PRPD discriminated against Officer Jeannette Caraballo Lopez (Caraballo) on the basis of her sex by, among other ways, requiring her to perform secretarial tasks not required of male officers and by subjecting her to sexually discriminatory comments. For example, while working as an agent-investigator in the Division of Investigation of Stolen Vehicles for the Fajardo Area, she was told that the Division was, "not for females," or words to that effect, in violation of Title VII. The complaint also alleged that the PRPD retaliated against Officer Caraballo because she opposed employment practices that she reasonably believed to be unlawful, and because she filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Title VII. The complaint further alleged that the PRPD retaliated against Officer Manuel Bonilla Carrasquillo (Bonilla) because he opposed employment practices that he reasonably believed to be unlawful.

Under the terms of the consent decree, the PRPD will offer monetary awards totaling $125,000, including attorney’s fees, to the two officers. Officer Caraballo also will be offered reinstatement to an agent-investigator position with remedial seniority and related benefits and compensation. Officer Bonilla, who retired in September 2007, will be offered all the benefits and compensation to which he would have been entitled had he remained in his previous position without interruption until his retirement. The PRPD will also provide training on equal employment opportunity law, including discrimination based on gender and retaliation, to all supervisors in the Fajardo Area.

"We are pleased that the PRPD has agreed to resolve this case by entering into an appropriate consent decree," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The law does not allow employers to discriminate against women by only allowing them to perform duties that have been traditionally deemed ‘female’ assignments, or to retaliate against employees because they participate in an employment discrimination investigation."

The enforcement of Title VII continues to be a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/.

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Updated September 15, 2014