MODESTO, Calif., March 19 LAWFUEL – Litigation News — F…

MODESTO, Calif., March 19 LAWFUEL – Litigation News — Following a three year court battle, the Sacramento firm of Diepenbrock Harrison, lawyers for three women suing the City of Modesto for sex discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, have secured a $3.25 million settlement on their behalf. City of Modesto employees Karin Rodriguez, Jocelyn Reed and Debra Eggerman successfully completed their three-year battle with the City in their fight
to secure equitable workplace treatment on par with the City’s male
employees. The women were represented by Susan E. Kirkgaard, a veteran
trial lawyer who specializes in employment law and is a principal of
Diepenbrock Harrison, a Sacramento based law firm.

The women alleged that high-level managers in the City, including
current and former City Managers, personnel department and various
managers, created a workplace that discriminated against and was hostile to women. The women say that despite their attempts to encourage the City to treat its female employees the same as its male employees, when these women reported it to officials, the City did nothing to stop the discrimination
and harassment; instead retaliating against them. In 2004, the women
offered to resolve claims short of protracted litigation, but the City
ignored their overtures. The end result of this decision was quite costly
to the City. Throughout the litigation, the City failed to properly respond
to requests for public documents, and attorney fees were awarded to
plaintiffs and against the City for these violations.

After substantial disputes with attorneys for the City of Modesto
resulting in hotly contested Court hearings, Diepenbrock Harrison was able
to obtain documents that established widespread gender discrimination
throughout the City. Specifically, Diepenbrock Harrison obtained reports
prepared by the City’s Equal Employment Opportunity Officer showing that
Eggerman, Reed, and several other female employees had been denied
promotions and pay equal to that of their male counterparts, in violation
of state law. In essence, the City’s own Equal Opportunity Officer
substantiated a part of the plaintiffs’ claims. “Unfortunately, gender
disparity has historically been a systemic problem within the City,”
Kirkgaard commented. “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.”

Susan Kirkgaard added, “I am pleased our firm played a role in ensuring that the City finally recognized that its failure to treat women fairly and equally will not go unnoticed. We remain hopeful that the City will recognize its legal and moral obligation to pay and promote employees based on their skills and performance, regardless of gender. In the future, we hope the City acknowledges its responsibility to promptly and properly
respond to employee complaints of discrimination and harassment and to
curtail retaliation once a claim is reported.”

Diepenbrock Harrison’s practice focuses on winning outcomes for its
clients in the areas of employment law, business litigation, property
rights, and environmental law.

For more information, contact Susan Kirkgaard of Diepenbrock Harrison
at (916)492-5066, or at [email protected]

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