CENTERTON (KFSM) – A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Centerton on behalf of a Centerton Police officer who claims she was denied a promotion because of her gender.
The lawsuit was filed on July 2 in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Arkansas
Officer Jami Yarbrough claims that because of her gender, she was prevented the opportunity to properly apply for a position within the criminal investigation department (CID), denied the opportunity to be interviewed for the position and subsequently denied the position itself, despite being qualified for the job, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that Yarbrough injured her leg while off duty on April 19, 2014. As a result, she had to take medical leave. She returned to full duty on July 15, 2014, and found a job opening for a CID position.
In the past, she had expressed interest in such a position, and her superiors even expressed an interest in having her fill such a position if one came open, according to the lawsuit. One of Yarbrough’s superiors told her not to pursue other positions of promotion because the next CID position would be available to her, court documents state.
When she returned in July, Yarbrough sent a memo to her superiors expressing an interest in the position.
On Aug. 20, 2014, she was informed by a detective that she did not receive the position, and her medical leave (which is protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993) was considered in the decision not to promote her, the lawsuit states. Instead, the position was awarded to a male applicant who did not have any prior CID experience and who had minimal experience as a police officer, according to court documents.
The lawsuit also states that three other men applied for the position and were interviewed, but Yarbrough was never interviewed.
In the lawsuit, Yarbrough is described as having more than 22 years of law enforcement experience (including CID experience), and she is also a “decorated military veteran.”
As a woman, Yarbrough says she is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Centerton Police Department’s alleged conduct “constitutes discrimination based on gender in violation of Title VII,” the lawsuit states.
“Any other stated reasons for the defendant’s conduct were not the true reasons, but instead, were pretext to hide the defendant’s discriminatory animus,” according to the lawsuit.
Yarbrough requested a judicial declaration that the city of Centerton is liable under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, court documents state. She has also requested a jury trial on all triable issues.