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East Lansing police officer sues city for gender discrimination

February 15, 2016
<p>East Lansing Police Department on Aug. 29, 2015. Courtney Kendler/The State News</p>

East Lansing Police Department on Aug. 29, 2015. Courtney Kendler/The State News

Tresha Neff, a 21-year-veteran of the East Lansing Police Department, is suing the city based on claims that she was not promoted numerous times because of her gender.

The lawsuit, which was filed in January, alleges two violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and one violation of the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, according to the case file.

It took Neff 17 years as a police officer and eight applications for promotions before she was promoted to sergeant. According to the lawsuit, a male officer with three-and-a-half years less experience than Neff was promoted to sergeant at the same time. Neff was told he would be senior to her, according to the lawsuit.

Neff then applied for promotions to lieutenant in both 2013 and 2014. In the first instance, she applied for the promotion three days after it was posted and was interviewed soon after. Just days after her interview, the sergeant previously promoted at the same time as her was given the promotion instead, according to the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, each time Neff was rejected “she would ask why she wasn’t promoted and was told repeatedly that she needed to be ‘more well rounded.'”

The lawsuit also describes an incident in 2014 wherein she submitted a letter of application to an ELPD captain, and he took it “in his hand and then motioned like he was going to throw it in the trash and said, ‘is this where this goes?'”

The lawsuit also states Neff “was and is qualified for all of these opportunities and often was more qualified than the similarly situated male officers who were promoted or allowed training opportunities.”

Neff also alleges she was deprived of training, benefits and better schedules that male officers were given.

Only five women have been promoted to the East Lansing Police Department's command staff since the department was formed in 1921, and the first woman was promoted in 1977, according to the lawsuit. 

A message was left for ELPD public information officer Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth and City Manager George Lahanas Sunday afternoon seeking comment on the case.

Check back at for updates in this story. 

Tresha Neff Lawsuit

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