Two Billings Police Department officers who agreed to settle gender discrimination claims against the city have accepted new positions within the department.
Officers Sandra Leonard and Gaye Gauthier will be transferred to the department's detective division Monday, although Leonard won't start the new assignment for a few weeks.
The transfer to detectives from their patrol assignments was part of a settlement reached in November. Leonard, Gauthier and now-retired Officer Rebecca Hagen filed separate but similar complaints of gender discrimination against the department in 2005.
The settlement was approved by the City Council on Nov. 24 and included a provision that the city pay the three officers a total of $135,000. The city also agreed to a review of department policies by an outside expert.
Chief Rich St. John said Leonard's and Gauthier's new positions are considered a lateral transfer, not a promotion, and do not include a salary raise.
The officers will fill two new positions created to accommodate the settlement agreement, and their addition will bring the detective division to 22 officers, St. John said. Both officers asked to work the afternoon shift, he said, and the assignments will last for as long as they want to remain in the detective division.
Attorney Tim Kelly of Emigrant, who represented the officers in their discrimination claim, said the officers expect to be treated as equals in their new assignment.
"They are excited about moving to the position and have a positive outlook about it," Kelly said. "They've promised their best efforts to make this work, and they assume the command officers and the city will do the same."
Leonard was hurt on the job last year and is waiting for a medical release before starting her new job, Kelly said.
The gender bias complaints filed with the Montana Human Rights Bureau by the three officers alleged, among other things, that the department selected five less-qualified male officers to work as background investigators in 2005. An investigator with the state agency found cause in 2006 to support the officers' claims of discrimination, but other claims were dismissed.
A hearing in the case was delayed numerous times before the settlement was reached.