A jury has awarded more than $4 million to a former Massachusetts police detective who said in a lawsuit that she was subjected to demeaning and sexist comments at work and rebuked for speaking up about dangerous conduct by other officers during the search for a Boston Marathon bombing suspect.
The Middlesex Superior Court jury on Thursday awarded former Watertown detective Kathleen E. Donohue $3.36 million in back pay, future earnings and compensatory damages, as well as another $1 million in punitive damages, lawyers involved in the case told The Boston Globe.
“This verdict sends a broader message that work has to be done to make sure women in policing are treated with dignity and respect and equality,” said Donohue’s lead attorney, Ellen Zucker. “I hope this important moment will allow police departments to reflect on the way they do business, and change for the good of all of us.”
Doug Louison, a lawyer for the town, said the verdict disappointing and there will likely be an appeal.
“It does not reflect the professionalism and respect that exists for the women and men who work within the Watertown police department today,” he said.
Donohue, who joined the department in 1998 and became its first female detective in 2002, said in the discrimination suit filed in May 2019 that she was for years subjected to inappropriate and demeaning sexual comments.
Donohue, who was present when Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat in a Watertown yard in April 2013, also said she was berated by superiors after she reported she was endangered by bullets fired by fellow officers.
A 2015 state inquiry found that some officers used poor weapons discipline and endangered others during the arrest.