Saturday, April 17, 1999

Maui police
gender bias
suit settled

By Gary T. Kubota
Maui correspondent


WAILUKU - The Maui County Council has approved a settlement with one of three women who have filed lawsuits alleging gender bias in the Maui Police Department.

Stacey Sylos, 50, a patrol officer for 10 years, will be receiving $210,000 in cash and five years of paid administrative leave including benefits, as part of the settlement.

She is currently collecting workers' compensation for stress.

The settlement, authorized by the council yesterday, also calls for applying the five years of paid administrative leave toward her retirement for 15 years of service and to pay for her vocational rehabilitation for a year.

"I'm happy it's settling," Police Chief Thomas Phillips said. "We can move on."

Sylos' attorney, Kevin Yuen, said the settlement backs up the thrust of Sylos' claims.

"It certainly recognizes the fact that historically females have been mistreated in the department," Yuen said. "But I think it also depicts a willingness of the department to change its ways."

Deputy Corporation Counsel Gregory Ball was unavailable for comment, and Sylos also declined comment.

In her initial lawsuit filed in Maui Circuit Court in 1996, Sylos said after transferring to the Lahaina patrol in 1991, she was harassed because of her gender, age and race.

Sylos, a Caucasian, said she was denied promotion to sergeant and disciplined unfairly, despite placing third on the written exam in 1993, first in 1994 and second in 1995.

She alleged the department retaliated against her for reporting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1995 that a fellow patrol officer beat a man arrested for drunken driving.

Sylos said the situation became so bad it jeopardized her safety because officers either failed or responded slowly in providing her with backup during patrol calls and traffic stops.

Sylos said male officers had crude discussions about females and their anatomy in her presence.

A condom was put into her mail drawer in one instance, and a photograph of a man without clothes was constantly put in her drawer, the lawsuit alleged.

Two other cases against the department involving Malia Chun and Bonnie Burke are expected to go to trial May 17 in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.

Burke, 46, a single parent with a daughter, is on total workers' compensation disability after serving 7 years as a patrol officer.

Chun has resigned as a patrol officer.

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