CRANBERRY TWP — Cranberry Township faces a civil rights lawsuit in federal court over allegations its police department discriminated against an officer on the basis of sex.
Tiffani Shaffer, a patrol officer with the department, filed the suit Nov. 14 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, claiming the police department discriminated against her after she became pregnant and retaliated against her for filing a discrimination complaint. The sole defendant listed in the lawsuit is Cranberry Township.
“The township failed to treat her similarly as other employees in similar situations by not giving her a 40-hour workweek of light duty, when the township has a history of giving a light-duty 40-hour workweek to men who requested it in the past,” said Shaffer's attorney, Megan Block.
Shaffer claims the department cut her hours after she told Chief Kevin Meyer about her pregnancy in April 2018. According to the civil complaint, Meyer told Shaffer she needed a doctor's note to move to light duty. When Shaffer brought a note and her doctor faxed in a list of duties, the lawsuit claims, Meyer “refused” to schedule her full-time.
Shaffer alleges in the lawsuit that male officers were permitted full-time light-duty schedules, arguing that she was denied the same option.
According to the lawsuit, Shaffer filed discrimination complaints in July 2018 with both the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the lawsuit says. Shaffer claims Meyer and a human resources representative asked her later that month why she filed the complaint.
The lawsuit claims that following the meeting, Meyer reduced the number of tasks Shaffer could perform. She could not process firearm background check violation cases or handle fingerprints, according to the complaint. In the suit, Shaffer claims this was an act of retaliation.
Tina Fedko, the township's communication manager, said the township would not comment on the matter.
“As this is a matter of litigation and in respect to the legal process, the township only responds to litigation through that process,” Fedko wrote in an email to the Butler Eagle.
In addition to an injunction preventing the department from further actions that Shaffer alleges are discriminatory, the lawsuit requests the court grant back pay with interest for hours missed from work, punitive damages and a declaration the department engaged in unlawful discrimination.