Southampton Town, Police Officer Settle Suit

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Southampton Town has agreed to pay Lt. Susan Ralph of the town police department $120,000 and give her credit for 59 sick days of sick time and seven vacation days to settle a federal discrimination suit she filed in 2015.

Earlier this year, the town reached a settlement in which it agreed to pay Det. Sgt. Lisa Costa, who had filed a similar discrimination suit in 2014, $300,000 and credit for 29 sick days to settle.

Lt. Ralph, who was a sergeant at the time, filed suit in early 2015, charging that she was being denied the opportunity for promotion because she was a woman. As part of her suit, she charged that her efforts had been stymied by male members of the force. Shortly after the suit was filed, the town board promoted her to a lieutenant’s position.

In a joint press release, the parties stated that the settlement was reached based on their agreement that continued litigation would be costly and time consuming. Southampton Town Attorney James Burke emphasized that the settlement does not mean that the town is liable, noting “It was in the best interests of the town and the police department to find a resolution which could end this prolonged litigation, and we’re happy that we were able to do so.”

Lt. Ralph’s attorney, Matthew Weinick, added “Litigation is always uncertain and with this settlement comes some closure and peace of mind for Lt. Ralph.”

Besides the payment and credit for the sick and vacation time, Lt. Ralph will also be given the use of a police vehicle and a recommendation from the department to attend the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy for additional training.

The suit, filed by the Melville law firm, Famighetti & Weinick, had charged that Lt. Ralph had been passed over for promotions when she was a patrol officer. The situation grew worse, the suit charged, when she testified in an internal investigation against Officer Eric Sickles, who had a drug problem, and his supervisor, Lieutenant James Kiernan, who was later suspended while the matter was being investigated.

The suit additionally charged that then-Chief James Overton had made unwanted sexual advances toward Lt. Ralph when she was a patrol officer, attempting to kiss her on two occasions after he had assigned her to a narcotics unit she had requested.

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