Helena police officer files discrimination suit

Published 4:49 pm Monday, November 3, 2008

A female Helena police officer has filed a sex discrimination suit against the city of Helena.

In the suit, filed Oct. 15, Jan “OJ” McDuff alleges that she was denied training and pay raises given to her male counterparts, and that she was wrongfully disciplined because of her discrimination complaints.

McDuff, who according to the suit is the only female officer in the Helena Police Department, has worked at the department since 2000. She is currently a school resource officer.

The suit states that in 2007, McDuff applied for a K9 position, which was subsequently given to a “less qualified male.” In December of that year, McDuff complained about her treatment and was later disciplined for “non-legitimate reasons,” the suit states.

On Feb. 12, 2008, McDuff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the suit, Helena officials retaliated by denying McDuff pay raises, disciplining her and refusing to pay medical bills for an on-the-job injury, among other things.

The suit also states she has been denied overtime pay. McDuff is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Frank “Butch” Ellis, lawyer for the city of Helena, said the city investigated and determined McDuff’s complaints were without merit. He refused to make further comment.