Ex-officer files lawsuit against city

Published 10:41 am Thursday, June 3, 2010

Former Ironton Police sergeant and current city councilwoman Beth Rist is suing the City of Ironton, its police department, Mayor Rich Blankenship and Police Chief Jim Carey.

In a civil rights lawsuit filed June 1 in United States District Court, Rist claims she was unlawfully terminated because of her gender and in retaliation for her documented opposition to what she alleges was discriminatory treatment.

The lawsuit is a seven-page document that includes five additional pages from a complaint filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission in August 2009.

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In the suit, Rist is seeking compensation from damages for economic and non-economic injuries as well as punitive damages, costs, and attorney fees. She also wants to be reinstated as a police officer.

Rist was fired from the police department in 2008 for allegedly falsifying a traffic ticket. After pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, Rist was ordered to serve two years probation. The lawsuit alleges that in situations where male officers had committed the same or similar serious violations, those officers were not terminated.

Rist filed a grievance protesting her termination. An arbitrator determined that Rist had been terminated without cause and ordered that she be reinstated to her position as police officer. Following an appeal of the arbitrator’s decision, Rist’s termination was reinstated, However she and her attorneys contend that the arbitrator’s ruling should have been final, per the guidelines of the city’s police union contract.

The lawsuit alleges that both the termination and the city’s failure to reinstate Rist were motivated by a desire to discriminate against her for protesting what she believed was a hostile environment in the police department.

In 2001, Rist successfully sued the city in a suit that alleged sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

Rist was hired in 1996 as the first female officer in the city’s history.

Reached Thursday morning, Blankenship declined to comment, saying that he had not been officially notified of the lawsuit by the court.

Rist, her attorney Marc Mezibov, and Carey could not immediately be reached for comment.