A police officer with the Port of Galveston is suing its governing board, asserting she was passed over for promotion several times because of her gender.
The chairman of the Wharves Board of Trustees, which governs the port, declined Tuesday to comment about the federal lawsuit.
Carmen Parker filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas against the wharves board, asserting that despite being a well-regarded employee with about 34 years of law enforcement experience, she couldn’t get promoted to the rank of lieutenant, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit is filed as a Title VII claim.
Title VII is part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prohibits discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.
Parker is one of two female police officers at the port, where she has worked since March 2009, according to the lawsuit.
Parker came to the port after serving with the Galveston Police Department for 25 years, according to the complaint.
During her time at the port, Parker filed applications for lieutenant promotions several times and was never selected for the positions, the lawsuit asserts.
“In the first instance, Sgt. Parker was told she ranked second highest of candidates for two open lieutenant slots, but port management avoided promoting her by filling only one slot,” according to the complaint. “Eventually, a second lieutenant slot was filled, but by a less-qualified male. Later, a less-qualified male peer was selected over her to serve in an acting lieutenant position, which resulted in an increase in pay, a higher likelihood for promotion, or both.”
A retired male officer in August 2017 said he saw three co-workers talk about how they didn’t want women on their shift during a supervisor’s meeting, according to the lawsuit.
Parker filed the lawsuit against the wharves board after initially taking the issue to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016, according to the lawsuit.
After reviewing the case, officials with the commission in December 2017 ruled to close the file on the complaint.
“Based upon its investigation, the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes,” according to filed documents. “This does not certify that the respondent is in compliance with the statutes. No finding is made as to any other issues that might be construed as having been raised by this charge.”
The dismissal included a notice that a lawsuit on the issue must be filed within 90 days of receipt of the ruling.
Several of the openings Parker applied to were in between the time she filed the initial claim with the commission and its final ruling in December 2017, according to the complaint.
“The actions occurred close enough in time to the EEO activity to suggest that they were related,” the lawsuit asserts.
Representatives for the port have not yet responded to the lawsuit, court records show.
The port must file an answer to the lawsuit in federal court by May 15, court records show.
The attorney representing Parker, David Schleicher, declined to comment, other than to say they looked forward to working with the court and port to resolve the issue.
Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; firstname.lastname@example.org
Editors Note: I don't usually post newspaper articles on my blog. I did so because I have known Sgt. Parker for quite some time and always thought she was a good officer. I even had the pleasure of working with her ex-husband for a while. Good Luck.