The day after a jury awarded Watertown’s first female detective $4 million in her sex discrimination trial, the city attorney and the Watertown Police Department doubled down on their defense.
Doug Louison told GBH News the city disagreed with the jury’s finding that the incidents relayed by former detective Kathleen E. Donohue “constituted a hostile workplace for women.” He also said that Donohue’s claims of discrimination were negated by the fact that she had multiple opportunities to “grow and flourish” in her career while working there. Louison said the city will file post-verdict motions within a week, as part of the appeal review process.
Donohue alleged in his complaint, filed in 2019that she had been the victim of sexism and harassment for the entirety of her 20-plus years on the force.
“Detective Donohue worked in an environment where sexual jokes – sometimes graphic and crude – were the norm,” Ellen Zucker, Donohue’s attorney, told GBH News.
Zucker said Donohue initially tried to ignore the issue, but ultimately decided something had to change.
“She asked for an investigation,” Zucker said. “The Watertown Police Department completely ignored this request. They went through an hour-long training that they knew would be handled with a look from the force, and they did nothing more.
The total amount included $1 million in punitive damages and more than $3 million in arrears, as previously reported. Her attorney said she had to take time off in the fall of 2016 for her mental health and had not been on active payroll since the spring of 2017.
The biggest source of stress, Zucker said, was the lack of support she suffered after the Boston Marathon bombing. Donohue was at the scene the night bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was discovered hiding in a boat, and said bullets fired by other officers nearly hit her. But she said the worst was what came next.
“There was a lot of post-traumatic stress in a lot of officers. But instead of getting services, she suffered horrific harassment and discrimination,” Zucker said. This included, Zucker said, circulating false rumors that her job responsibilities had increased to include communicating with the press because she was sleeping with then-chef Ed Deveau.
“What the jury said in their award of punitive damages was that the conduct of the city was outrageous,” Zucker said. ” And we hope [it] sends a message – not just to the city of Watertown, but to police services across the Commonwealth. »