CONCORD — The highest-ranking woman in the Concord Police Department has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the city, claiming she was passed over for promotions and disciplined for minor infractions while favored male officers were allowed free rein.
Lt. Robin Heinemann, 44, is the fourth woman to sue the department for sexual harassment in the past two years. The city settled two suits in February, paying one woman $250,000 and another woman nothing. The third suit, filed in July, is pending.
The suit names Chief David Livingston, Capt. Daniel Siri and the city as defendants.
"We are extremely disappointed that Lt. Heinemann has now resorted to an unfounded discrimination-harassment lawsuit," wrote Assistant City Attorney Mark Coon in an e-mail. "We ... are confident that at trial, the city and all members of the Concord Police Department will be shown to have acted appropriately toward Lt. Heinemann."
Siri referred questions to the city attorney's office; Livingston did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment Wednesday.
In the suit, Heinemann — in charge of the department's Northern District — claims she was passed over for the Investigations Manager job, which she would traditionally have gotten as the most experienced lieutenant.
Before conducting interviews, Siri used a sexual term to tell other command officers he had already made up his mind, according to the suit.
When another captain reported the comment to Livingston, the chief told that captain to drop the matter, according to the suit.
Coon, the city attorney, said Heinemann "has received several promotions, as well as many advantageous work assignments and training opportunities."
Heinemann, who has been with the department since 1988, was one of eight women who sued the department in the late 1990s for sexual harassment. The group won a $1.25 million settlement in 1998. The situation improved for a few years after the settlement, but has since gone downhill, said Stan Casper, Heinemann's attorney both in the 1990s and now.
"Lt. Heinemann felt that she had no options," Casper said. "She has been trying to work within the system and tolerate many of the discriminatory practices ... she simply couldn't take it any more."
The suit also says Heinemann was disciplined or investigated for minor issues — such as having two subordinates who wore inappropriate costumes to a Halloween party.
In contrast, some male officers got away with much more serious transgressions. One example: "In the spring of 2008, an off-duty male officer threatened to shoot a citizen in a shopping mall parking lot because she had allegedly taken his parking space," according to the suit. "Identifying himself as a police officer, he swore and used racial and gender deprecating epithets against the citizen, who was a black female. The officer was not disciplined."
Another male officer turned in fraudulent time cards, and Siri canceled the investigation into the matter, according to the suit.
And Heinemann discovered that traffic officers — an assignment reserved for privileged men — were intentionally racking up overtime by scheduling court dates on their days off, according to the suit. When Heinemann reported the abuse to her supervisor, she was told to stop investigating the traffic division, according to the suit.
Reach Paul Thissen at 925-943-8163.