SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco deputies can proceed with a gender discrimination lawsuit challenging a Sheriff’s Department decision to prohibit male guards from entering the women’s jail, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The lawsuit filed by more than three dozen female and male deputies argues that women inmates do not respect the authority of women deputies, often ignoring their commands, which creates an unsafe working environment.
“The twenty women, they all complained that working a pod without a male partner was much more stressful because the women would listen to and follow the instructions of a male before they would a female’s,” said Lawrence Murray, an attorney for the deputies.
“They just couldn’t take the stress of constant argument with female prisoners that the females had to endure without having a male there to tell them to shut up and sit down.”
The city decided to remove male deputies from the women’s jail after allegations that some female inmates had been sexually harassed by guards. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sent the 2007 suit to overturn that policy back to a lower court for review, overturning a summary judgment in favor of the city.
The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office believes the policy will be upheld at trial, said Gabriel Zitrin, the lawyer defending the case for the city.
“The plaintiffs in this case can’t demonstrate that they suffered a legally significant harm. They have to say, this is what this policy has cost us, and they can’t really demonstrate it’s cost them anything,” Zitrin said.