Baltzer v. City of Sun Prairie/Police Dept.

Decision Date26 July 1989
Docket NumberNo. 88-C-693-C.,88-C-693-C.
Citation725 F. Supp. 1008
PartiesBernadette BALTZER, Tricia M. Markham, and Julie Rortvedt, Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF SUN PRAIRIE/POLICE DEPARTMENT, Chief of Police Raymond Boehlert, Lieutenant Carlyle Wilkinson, Sergeant Kenneth Hammond, and Sergeant Patrick O'Connor, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Wisconsin



Lester Pines, Ruth Robarts, Cullen, Weston, Pines & Bach, Madison, Wis., for plaintiffs.

John R. Sweeney, Melli, Walker, Pease & Ruhly, S.C., Madison, Wis., for defendants.


CRABB, Chief Judge.

In this civil action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 plaintiffs, female police officers employed by the town of Sun Prairie, contend that defendants discriminated against them in employment on the basis of gender. Now before the court are defendants' motion to dismiss, motion for summary judgment, motion in limine, and motion to strike portions of the plaintiffs' affidavits, exhibits, and proposed findings of fact.

Because defendants fail to demonstrate that dismissal of the case is warranted, I will deny all of their motions to dismiss except their motion to dismiss plaintiffs' Title VII claims against the City of Sun Prairie and their motion to dismiss claims concerning "ride-alongs" and calls for backup brought against the city under § 1983. Because I find that plaintiffs have failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination as to all but one of their claims, summary judgment will be granted in favor of defendants on all of plaintiffs' claims except that relating to plaintiffs' shift change.

From the parties' proposed findings of fact and supporting affidavits and exhibits, and for the purpose only of deciding these motions, I find that there is no genuine dispute as to the following material facts.1


Plaintiffs are female police officers with the City of Sun Prairie Police Department. They are each classified as Police Officer-II.

The department includes twenty-four full-time sworn officers and approximately twenty-five nonsworn, civilian employees. All department employees are employed by the defendant City of Sun Prairie. Plaintiffs are the only full-time female officers employed by the city.

Defendant Boehlert is chief of the department. He is responsible for all officers and civilian members of the department. He reports to the Mayor of Sun Prairie, the City Council, and the Police and Fire Commission. He does not have authority to hire, promote, or terminate a member of the department. Only the Police and Fire Commission, a citizen board, has the power to hire, promote, or terminate employees. However, defendant Boehlert may recommend to the commission that it take such action.

Defendant Wilkinson is one of two lieutenants in the department. He reports directly to defendant Boehlert.

Defendants Hammond and O'Connor report directly to defendant Wilkinson.

Defendant Hammond has general day-to-day authority for supervision of one of three duty shifts. He supervised plaintiffs when they were assigned to his shift.2 Hammond currently supervises the 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. shift.

Defendant O'Connor currently supervises the 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. shift. All three plaintiffs currently are assigned to that shift.

Change of Plaintiff Rortvedt's Schedule

In November 1987, defendant Wilkinson told plaintiff Rortvedt that he was concerned that the three full-time women officers were sometimes assigned to the same shift and day off schedule. When plaintiffs were all assigned to the same shift and work schedule, no female officer was on duty during other shifts or work schedules. Wilkinson changed Rortvedt's day off schedule. To balance the workforce, he also changed the day off schedule of Rick Lange, a male officer. After the schedule change there continued to be no woman available during other shifts.

Later in November, plaintiffs Rortvedt and Baltzer discussed with defendant Wilkinson their dissatisfaction about the change. Defendant Wilkinson told them that "there were nights when all females were working and all men were working and I don't like to see this." In a later discussion he stated that there are "certain calls which females could handle better than males and certain calls which males could handle better."

On November 30, 1987, defendant Boehlert told plaintiff Baltzer that he was not aware of "the situation." After looking at his calendar, he said that he "could see" what defendant Wilkinson was "trying to do." He stated that he would not take a position on the matter because he had delegated scheduling responsibility to Wilkinson. Defendant Boehlert has final responsibility for scheduling.

In December 1987, plaintiff Rortvedt filed a grievance concerning the change in her work schedule. On February 2, 1987, defendant Boehlert rescinded the schedule change. Rortvedt lost no back pay or related benefits because of the temporary schedule change. The change prevented her from "working out."

Denial of Training to Plaintiffs

Officers receive basic training and education in law enforcement before beginning employment with the department, and continue their training and education during their employment. The department sometimes orders officers to attend training or education courses. For example, officers must remain current in firearms and driver training.

Officers are generally encouraged to obtain additional education and training in law enforcement. Most training is left to officer initiative. However, from time to time department supervisors will request that individual officers participate in a specific training program.

When required training is available, supervisory personnel advise officers that they are to sign up for and receive the training. Other training is optional. Officers are permitted to attend such training as the needs of the department require, taking into consideration individual officers' preferences and department resources.

Periodicals detailing training opportunities provided by outside organizations are generally available in a sergeant's office.3 The department does not formally notify officers of the availability of periodicals or search out particular training opportunities for officers.

If an officer wishes to attend a course or training session, she may submit a request to her supervisor, who will forward the request to a lieutenant for approval. Plaintiffs have requested additional training. Some of their requests have been approved and some have been denied.

Since 1980, plaintiff Rortvedt has received between 989 and 1081 hours of training, ranking her third in the department. Plaintiff Baltzer received between 889 and 965 hours of training, ranking her sixth in the department. Plaintiff Markham received between 789 and 820 hours of training, ranking her ninth in the department.4

Plaintiff Markham has received only that training that was mandatory for officers during the years she has been with the department. Plaintiff Rortvedt and Baltzer completed additional training; much of the additional training was done at plaintiffs' expense.

Only male officers have received special training in suburban drug investigation and arson investigation.

Denial of Special Assignments to Plaintiffs

Defendant Wilkinson is responsible for scheduling and making special assignments for officers. Defendant Boehlert is responsible for final approval of all assignments.

Certain officers and supervisory officials are given additional assignments. Special training has been given to officers who receive special assignments. There is no formal application process for special assignments.

All officers chosen for additional assignments have been male. In determining the department's needs for additional assignments, the department has not investigated plaintiffs' interests, skills, or experience. The department has not announced to plaintiffs the availability of special assignments.

The department has an on-going major accident investigation team. All members of the team are male. In addition, the department has trained two male officers in arson investigations and has assigned them to arson investigations. Also, the department has assigned three male officers to participate in a drug investigation unit.5 No woman has been given any special assignment.

Plaintiff Markham has received no special assignments and no additional training for any special assignment.

From 1980 to 1982, on her own initiative, plaintiff Baltzer received training in sexual assault and child victim cases. The training was not related to any specific assignment.

On her own initiative, plaintiff Rortvedt received training to become a field training officer. She was not given an assignment as a field training officer until after the filing of this lawsuit.

Denial of Promotions to Plaintiffs

Officers who wish to apply for a promotion to Police Officer-III, sergeant, lieutenant, detective, youth officer and other positions within the department must take a written examination administered by the State of Wisconsin and an oral examination administered by the Police and Fire Commission. The written test concerns basic skills and knowledge. Applicants prepare for the exams by studying materials found in most libraries. The oral exam contains general, not technical, questions. Following the examinations the commission certifies candidates who achieve passing marks, ranks the certified candidates, and sends a ranked list of certified candidates to defendant Boehlert. Defendant Boehlert, with occasional assistance from defendant Hammond, selects one candidate. The commission may accept or reject the selection.

An officer's prior training and special assignments do not affect her chances of being certified by the commission.6

Plaintiff Baltzer generally competes for every...

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