SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — Four Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies are speaking out against the department after winning a multimillion-dollar settlement against the county.
The plaintiffs say they were discriminated against for being women and speaking up. Two of them still work the for the sheriff’s department. After this victory, they say a lot has changed.
For the first time, all four women spoke to CBS13 about their victory against the department.
“I hope that women take this and feel empowered,” said lead plaintiff Lt. Annica Hagadorn.
“It was important for me to show my daughters to stand up for what’s right,” said retired deputy Jodi Mendonca.
“It’s scary; this is your livelihood,” said deputy Dawn Douglas.
Earlier this week, a jury awarded them $3.5 million, seven years after they sued the department for harassment. Among the concerns they raised were favoritism and gender and ethnic discrimination in the workplace. They then said the department retaliated against them.
“I was willing to speak up willing to say enough’s enough,” Mendonca said.
The women say they brought the complaints to current Sacramento County sheriff and Congressional candidate Scott Jones. He denies any involvement.
“This started six, seven years ago before I was actually sheriff,” he said.
Traci Keller was awarded the most money, about $3.2 million, after she says she suffered a stroke following an internal investigation she was later cleared of. She didn’t feel comfortable speaking on camera.
“There’s such a culture of retaliation and fear, there are so many people that are scared,” Douglas said.
Together, the women hope the verdict sends a message that the department needs to change. They’re calling for a new committee with independent oversight authority of the department.
“Women should not be afraid to raise concerns,” Hagadorn said.
Jones says the county is considering filing an appeal.