A 40-year-old corporal in the Prince George's County Police Department claimed in a federal lawsuit filed Friday that she was rejected for a position in the department's K-9 unit because of her age and sex.
In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Cpl. Judith L. McClosky, a 12-year veteran, seeks $21.1 million in damages.
It was the third sexual discrimination suit filed against the department in two years, County Attorney Michael Whalen said yesterday. He declined to comment on Corporal McClosky's suit until he had seen it.
Jules R. Bricker, attorney for Corporal McClosky, said the other suits are pending.
In her suit, Corporal McClosky said that last summer she was the only woman among 46 applicants for openings in the K-9 unit. She had received the highest performance rating the department gives in each of the previous four years, met all qualifications for the job in the K-9 unit, and made the deadline for applying, the suit said.
But during an interview before a board of officers, Capt. Gerald Speck, commander of the Special Operations Division that includes the K-9 unit, asked why she should be considered when other applicants were in their early to mid-20s, the suit said.
"I explained the maturity involved and how the younger officers might commit to an attack [sooner] than I would," Corporal McClosky said yesterday. "A lot of young officers go into K-9 for the thrill of it. Being a mature officer and a seasoned veteran, I felt I was the best applicant."
Corporal McClosky said Captain Speck also asked her why she would want to give up straight day work for a shift assignment when she had a family. And he had previously commented that "women should stay at home having babies, and not serve as police officers," according to the suit.
According to the suit, four male officers, all under the age of 30, were given the positions in the K-9 unit.
Corporal McClosky said that when she took up the matter with Lt. Col. John Moss, the department's equal employment opportunity officer, he told her that questions pertaining to her age were discriminatory and that, if such a question had been asked, she should be given a job in the K-9 unit.
Two weeks later, Colonel Moss told her he had confirmed her version of what had occurred during the interview but he refused to assign her to the K-9 unit, she said.
Colonel Moss and Captain Speck were unavailable for comment.
The department, which Mr. Whalen estimated has about 1,200 employees, is 10 percent female, according to the suit. Of the 100 officers in the Special Operations Division, only one is female, the suit said.