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The Cavanagh Law Firm Wins Title VII Gender Discrimination and Defamation Case

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2021 | News & Press Releases

Attorneys Debora Verdier and Chrisanne Gultz were victorious in their recent Title VII Gender Discrimination and Defamation case. The case was brought by a retired homicide detective who retired while he was under administrative investigation.

The detective claimed he was constructively discharged and sought over $880,000 in related economic damages. The administrative investigation followed a criminal investigation, which started after the defendant received a complaint from a citizen that suggested the detective was not working his full shifts and was taking his work vehicle home against orders.  A preliminary audit of the detective’s time worked provided corroborating evidence resulting in a criminal investigation for theft of time (getting paid to work without working). Defendant found probable cause for theft and submitted the matter for consideration to the Maricopa County Attorneys’ Office (MCAO) for possible prosecution. MCAO turned the matter down for prosecution. Defendant then proceeded with the internal affairs investigation relating to the same conduct.  Plaintiff retired before the completion of that investigation. Plaintiff claimed the investigation, the submittal for prosecution, and his administrative assignments pending the investigation were discriminatory based on his gender. The jury disagreed and found in favor of the defendant concluding that Plaintiff could not meet his burden of establishing that gender was at least a motivating factor in the defendant’s actions and decisions with respect to the investigation.

Following the plaintiff’s retirement, the defendant, in keeping with its legal obligations to do so, reported that it was aware of the investigation to the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST) and to MCAO for consideration of placement on the Rule 15 Disclosure List (i.e., the “Brady List”). Plaintiff claimed those mandatory disclosures were defamatory and that the investigation itself contained false statements. Plaintiffs requested $6,000,000 in reputational damages. The jury found that some of the allegedly defamatory statements were subject to an absolute privilege and, thus, the defendant could not be liable for those statements. The jury found that other of the allegedly defamatory statements were subject to a conditional privilege and Plaintiff could not establish that the defendant acted with malice or consciously disregarded the truth of those statements when making them. Our lawyers represented the defense in that case and received a full defense verdict on all claims.