By John Christoffersen
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — An investigation by a Connecticut city has found no evidence that a transgender police officer was subject to discrimination or a hostile work environment.
Middletown Officer Francesca Quaranta has alleged that while her colleagues were initially supportive, she began to face hostility from some and the treatment became so bad she went on paid leave. She filed a complaint last year with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, which is still pending.
Meanwhile, city human relations officials investigated and now say they found no evidence of discrimination.
"While officer Quaranta's transgender transition is a new experience for her and the Middletown Police Department, it is believed that the department is handling her transition in a professional manner," Faith Jackson, the city's human relations director, wrote in a letter to the mayor.
Mayor Daniel Drew said he and Police Chief William McKenna made it clear Quaranta was to receive equal treatment and supervising officers received training on the issue. The mayor said a sergeant also was given a 10-day unpaid suspension over a remark he made about her.
"We've taken this very seriously from day one and will continue to take it seriously," he said.
Quaranta said Thursday she disagrees with the city's findings and was not surprised, saying officials want to protect the city from liability.
"I'm hoping that the state of Connecticut is much more open minded and actually looks at documents and actually listens to what I'm saying," Quaranta said.
A Middletown police officer since 2004, she said she loves the job but isn't sure she can return to the department.
"I think the harassment will just continue," she said. "Actually I think it will be much worse this time."
Quaranta was born male and had hormone therapy to become female. She decided to tell her colleagues in 2012 about the change and tried to slowly adjust her appearance to allow for a gradual transition.
She said she was ordered to remove her earrings even though female officers have been allowed to wear them. She initially was allowed to wear a wig but was later told it was not in compliance with policy and was disciplined in writing, she said.
She disputed an account by the city that Quaranta did not want to wear one of the wigs approved by the chief and wore unapproved wigs and that she wore hoop earrings on patrol in violation of the rules. She said she also faced more scrutiny of her work performance, with supervisors questioning her response time even to non-emergencies, such as an illegally parked car.
The city denies her allegations, saying any discipline or warnings were warranted, and the mayor said the city is looking forward to Quaranto returning to work as soon as possible.
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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press