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Reno Police Officer Again Accuses City Of Discrimination

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A Reno police sergeant has filed another discrimination lawsuit against the city.

Sgt. Laura Conklin won $54,000 in settlement money in two previous suits claiming she was subjected to degrading treatment from fellow officers and supervisors because of her gender and sexual orientation, according to the Reno Gazette Journal .

Deputy City Attorney Mark Dunagan says the previous settlements released the city from liability on most of what she describes in her latest filing.

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But Conklin says the discrimination hasn't stopped. Her lawyer Jason Guinasso says the earlier suits involved violations of her union contract. He says she still has the right to sue the city for civil rights violations.

"What wasn't ever dealt with were her civil rights claims relative to her being discriminated against as to her gender and orientation and being free from a hostile work environment," Guinasso told the newspaper. "Those are the things that we have laid out in our complaint that need to be addressed by the city."

Many of Conklin's claims in the new lawsuit recently filed in U.S. District Court in Reno are repeated from the previous suits dating to 2008. Judge Miranda Du has set a status conference on the new case for Sept. 6.

Among other things, Conklin says she suffered reprisals after she refused a fellow officer's request to provide him with photos of a female co-worker changing in a locker room. She earlier won a $9,000 judgment based on that allegation.

Conklin also said she helped reveal that officers on the Special Enforcement Team used racial epithets and code words to describe black and Latino citizens more than 10 years ago. She claims a former deputy chief, who at the time supervised the SET officers, retaliated against her until he was forced to leave the department in 2012.

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Conklin was demoted to officer from sergeant after she sold a personal handgun to a 19-year-old man with a mental illness while on duty at 4 a.m. Conklin claims her demotion was discriminatory because a fellow sergeant on scene during the transaction wasn't disciplined.

She filed a grievance at the time, which was denied all the way to the level of the Nevada Supreme Court. Before that court could issue a decision, she settled with the city for a $45,000 payment and reinstatement to the position of sergeant.

Conklin maintains Reno City Attorney Karl Hall purposely tried to embarrass her by disclosing her involvement in the gun sale to a defense attorney in a criminal case.

Since then, Conklin said she has been subjected to harsh reviews by a lieutenant who is not her daily supervisor and has repeatedly been denied requested assignments to the robbery/homicide division.