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Court deputy alleges discrimination

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A Marion County deputy sheriff is suing her employer, claiming the sheriff's department discriminated against her when it selected male deputies for open positions within the court system.

Rita Smith filed suit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. In her suit, Smith v. Marion County Sheriff's Department, No. 1:09-CV-1058, she claims the Marion County Sheriff's Department violated the Family Medical Leave Act, discriminated against her because of her sex, and retaliated in violation of Title VII when she complained about discriminatory practices.

Smith joined the department in October 2005 and was transferred to the position of "court line" deputy in Marion County courts in August 2006. After one day of working in Marion Superior Court 9 in 2007, she was replaced by a male deputy. Smith alleges the MCSD falsified information stating the judge asked she be removed from the court.

Smith also alleges that she was constantly passed over for open deputy positions within the court system and those jobs were given to other male candidates with less seniority. She was also removed from a court line deputy position in Court 17 in March 2007 after conflict with her male partner. She believes he should have been removed because he instigated the conflict and she had seniority.

She also had been told deputies wouldn't be allowed to move with their judges if the judge is relocated to another court, although several male deputies who wished to move with their assigned judges were allowed.

Smith claims the MCSD harassed her about not showing up for roll call even though she was on approved Family and Medical Leave Act leave and that the department retaliated against her for vocalizing her objections to sexist, discriminatory practices.

Smith wants the court to enjoin MCSD from engaging in further acts of discrimination and retaliation, and to promote her immediately to a position in a major felony court. She also wants payment of any lost wages and money suffered as a result of the department's alleged unlawful actions, punitive damages, payment of her attorneys' fees, and any other relief to which she may be entitled.

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