A Hartford police detective who was demoted after complaining that his supervisor denied his request for time off to care for a sick child has filed a federal lawsuit against the city.
In his lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, Samuel Cruz said a sergeant supervisor denied him time off for his child, allegedly saying that he “did not care that the child was sick.” The lawsuit claims the sergeant also failed to submit Cruz’s overtime card for proper payment for hours he had worked.
Soon after telling a lieutenant about the events, Cruz said that supervisor punished him with a transfer that hurt his income. He said the supervisor transferred him from the Drug Enforcement Agency Unit to the Major Crimes Unit, which paid no overtime.
The transfer, the lawsuit said, deprived “the plaintiff of substantial overtime pay and the use of a vehicle.”
Cruz, who said he was discriminated against because of his Hispanic ancestry, sued citing violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act. His lawsuit says the sergeant “was requiring him to perform work not required of non-Hispanic detectives, asserting he was being subjected to disparate treatment in comparison to non-Hispanic officers.”
Cruz was hired to work on the Hartford force as an officer in 2006. He became a detective in 2010 and was assigned to the DEA narcotic unit, where he worked with federal drug agents, had the use of a department vehicle, and received overtime pay.
But the five-page lawsuit, styled Cruz v. City of Hartford, alleges that when Cruz drove to the DEA office in Rocky Hill after his transfer to return company property, a lieutenant on the force ordered a fellow detective to “follow him, thereby demeaning him and humiliating the plaintiff, and creating the impression that the plaintiff was untrustworthy.”
As a result, the lawsuit says, Cruz suffered emotional distress.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees.
Representing Cruz is New Haven solo practitioner John Williams, whose office staff said he was on trial all day Thursday and unavailable for comment.
As of Thursday, the city or police department has not assigned attorneys to the case.
Howard Riskin, the city’s corporation counsel, did not respond to a request for comment.
And, according to his voice mail, Jason Thody, Hartford’s interim police chief, is out of the office the rest of the week and was unavailable for comment.
Judge Jeffrey Meyer is scheduled to hear the case.