Attorney: Judge's Decision Highlights CSP's Culture Of Homophobia

Judge Ruled Trooper Wasn't Rehired Because He Was Gay

The attorney for a former captain in the Colorado State Patrol said Wednesday the judge's decision in the discrimination case was "overwhelmingly favorable" and sends a strong message to employers about homophobia in the workplace.

"I think the judge crafted a decision that seeks to change the culture in the state patrol," Boulder attorney Keith Shandalow told 7NEWS Wednesday.

The gay community condemned the Colorado State Patrol Wednesday for what it calls a culture of homophobia among state troopers.

The critical 50-page ruling by an administrative law judge with the state personnel board highlights sexual-orientation discrimination practices in the CSP and states there appears to be a "homophobic" culture among troopers.

"It is very hostile toward gay males. It appears to be a little more accepting of gay females," said Shandalow. "There are anti-gay slurs used all through the ranks."

The judge's ruling concluded Shandalow's client was not rehired because of his sexual orientation.

As 7NEWS first reported Wednesday, the trooper had to take a lie detector test to be rehired after resigning months earlier. During that test, the trooper admitted to the polygraph examiner to having a sexual encounter with a male masseuse.

The judge's report said if the examiner hadn’t asked that inappropriate question, the trooper's personal life would have remained private and he would have been reinstated.

"We see discrimination in the work place almost on a daily basis," said Carlos Martinez, chief executive officer for The Center for Advancing LGBT Issues in Colorado. "I'm really glad that (this individual) has gone forward with this because there are a lot of people who won't say anything at all. They'll just let it go. And we're not going to change these kind of work environments unless there are people who go ahead and speak up."

Shandalow said taxpayers are now on the hook for the enormous tab from this discrimination case. That's because the CSP must pay for all attorneys fees and must pay the gay trooper front pay for the rest of his working life. Front pay is the difference between what the trooper makes now and what he would have made had he been reinstated as a captain with the CSP.

State Plans To Appealing Ruling

Jim Davis, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, said Wednesday afternoon that the agency disagrees with the judge's decision and plans to appeal.

"We do not believe there is discrimination in the State Patrol or anywhere in the Department of Public Safety, based upon sexual orientation, which is why we are appealing the judge's ruling," said Davis.

However, Davis said the department is already planning to comply with some of the judge's orders, calling the requirements "a good idea."

He said new diversity training will address sexual orientation, and he will designate a command level point-of-contact for gay employees.

"I think it's a good idea," Davis said. "I think that this whole episode has brought to light an opportunity for us in DPS to conduct additional training and to look at the training we've been giving our employees."

He would not address the specific details of the judge's ruling or the former captain's case, citing legal concerns.

However, when asked if the person administering the polygraph should have questioned the trooper about sexual orientation, Davis said: "The facts of this case highlight our need to re-address some of what we do in the department, and that would include looking at our training as it relates to diversity and specifically to sexual orientation."

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