A veteran Southampton Town police officer who was allegedly blocked from promotions and raises by the brass has reached a $120,000 settlement in her discrimination case against the town.
Lieutenant Susan Ralph will receive a check for about $93,000 and her legal counsel, Famighetti and Weinick of Melville, about $26,000, according to the eight-page settlement agreement.
She also received 59 sick days, seven vacation days, and will be provided with recommendations for the prestigious Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy at Quantico, VA. She will also be allowed the use of a town-owned police car upon the discretion of the police chief, once a car is made available by resolution of the town board.
Ralph sued for sexual discrimination and retaliation in 2015, naming the town, police department, and former police chief Robert Pearce, as well as Lt. James Kiernan as defendants in the lawsuit.
Ralph’s suit alleged she was retaliated against for speaking with investigators from Suffolk County Internal Affairs Bureau and the district attorney’s office during a probe of the department’s Street Crime Unit in 2012.
Part of the settlement includes a gag clause barring the town and the lieutenant from commenting publicly. Instead, they agreed on a joint statement in a press release.
A “significant portion” of Ralph’s settlement will be paid by the town’s insurance carrier, according to the release.
Both parties agreed that the settlement, negotiated over several hours during a conference before a Magistrate Judge last November, was reached based on the decision that continuing the litigation would be costly and time consuming.
Town Attorney James Burke noted reaching the settlement does not mean the town is liable.
“It was in the best interests of the town and the police department to find a resolution which could end this prolonged litigation, and we’re happy that we were able to do so,” Burke stated.
Ralph’s attorney Matthew Weinick added, “Litigation is always uncertain and with this settlement comes some closure and peace of mind for Lt. Ralph.”
The town expressly denied it committed any wrongdoing in the agreement and Lt. Ralph noted the settlement does not mean her case did not have merit.
Ralph, who joined the force in 2003, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2015. She currently serves as the department’s community relations liaison, with part of her role involving the distribution of press releases and photographs to members of the media.
She has taught community classes on the administration of the opioid antidote, Naloxone, and jump-started the department’s Police Explorers program for youth interested in law enforcement.
More recently, she has been working with the Southampton Town Opioid Addiction Task Force.
Ralph is the second police officer to sue the town for discrimination in recent years. Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa settled with the town in December for $300,000. Her 2014 suit alleged she was sexually harassed and also prevented from rising through the department’s ranks.