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Boston Female Police Detective Awarded $2 Million In Gender Discrimination Case

Lieutenant Detective Donna Gavin filed a lawsuit against the city of Boston and her former supervisor, Captain Detective Mark Hayes, claiming discrimination based on her gender, a hostile work environment, and retaliation against her for filing a complaint.

The Boston police force is 86% men, and at the time of her complaint, Gavin was the sole female lieutenant detective on the force. She worked in the sex trafficking unit. She said her supervisor targeted her because of her gender and prevented her from continuing to rise in the ranks. She described a “boys’ network” within the department. Although she earned a prestigious award in 2016 for her work, Gavin said Hayes's attitude toward her changed after she was promoted to her current rank. The mayor’s office asked her to oversee the human trafficking and crimes against children units and coordinate a new city initiative targeting sex exploitation. She said Hayes conducted secret audits of her cases, micromanaged her work, and undermined her with subordinates and superiors. She also said he transferred her out of her unit in retaliation for her complaint. The city argued Hayes had legitimate concerns about Gavin’s work performance and was holding her accountable. They said she expected preferential treatment based on her connections to a prior mayor.

The jury found Gavin proved her claims and ordered the city to pay her $2 million. The city and Hayes have not yet stated whether they will appeal the verdict.