Court Watch - POSTED: 2007/03/20 08:24
The city of Modesto has agreed to pay $3.25 million to settle allegations of sex discrimination, harassment and retaliation filed by a Sacramento law firm on behalf of three female employees.
The settlement was confirmed by Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne on Monday. The women were represented by Susan Kirkgaard, a trial attorney at Diepenbrock Harrison who specializes in employment law.
City employees Karin Rodriguez, Jocelyn Reed and Debra Eggerman alleged that high-level managers in the city created a workplace that discriminated against and was hostile to women.
The women complained they were denied promotions and pay equal to their male counterparts, in violation of state law. When they reported the problems to city officials, the city did nothing to stop the discrimination and harassment; instead retaliating against them, the women alleged.
"Unfortunately, gender disparity has historically been a systemic problem within the city," Kirkgaard said in a prepared statement. "During the time we have been fighting this war, we have seen the city attorney, city manager and a number of deputy directors leave the city's employment -- and I believe it to be caused in part by the claims we were raising."
The city settled the case to avoid complex and protracted litigation, said litigation counsel Shelline K. Bennett. The city did not admit liability.
"This resolution provides an opportunity to conclude a difficult chapter so that the organization can move forward," city manager George Britton said in a prepared statement.