HARTFORD, CONN.: When Francesca Quaranta told her fellow police officers in 2012 that she was transgender, she said it began a long and harsh career decline that included discrimination and harassment and culminated with her firing last week.
Quaranta, 47, believes her case against the city of Middletown will end up in federal or state court and hopes she will be awarded monetary damages for the alleged discrimination and loss of her law enforcement career.
“They made my life a living hell and nightmare to create the situation we’re in today. The system totally failed me and it has completely destroyed my life,” Quaranta said Monday. “I never should have told them. I was naive to think they would adjust.”
Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew sent a letter to Quaranta last week informing her that she was fired effective immediately for failing a fitness for duty evaluation, refusing to undergo a second evaluation, rejecting the city’s repeated attempts to return her to work and other factors. Drew said the firing was for administrative, not disciplinary, reasons.
The mayor’s letter came several months after the city’s own investigation by its human resources department rejected Quaranta’s discrimination allegations.
“She has refused to avail herself of the opportunities we presented to get her back to work,” Drew told The Associated Press on Monday.
Drew said there only was one report of discriminatory behavior against Quaranta, and a sergeant in that case was suspended for 10 days without pay for making a derogatory remark.
“So we have not been tolerant of any abuse of Officer Quaranta or anyone else,” Drew said.
Drew also said Quaranta failed to report her DUI arrest in December to her superiors as required, but Quaranta insists she did inform a supervisor within 48 hours and denies the DUI allegation.
Quaranta said there were several instances of discrimination and harassment and accused the city’s investigation of not looking into many of her allegations. She filed a complaint last year with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities that is still pending.
She said a lieutenant and two sergeants once talked about their thoughts on her performing sex acts with men. She said she was ordered to remove her earrings even though female officers were allowed to wear them.
Quaranta said she was initially allowed to wear a wig but was later told it was not in compliance with policy and she was disciplined in writing. And she said she faced more scrutiny of her work performance.
The city improperly denied insurance coverage for gender-reassignment surgery, Quaranta alleged. She also said she cannot afford her hormone drugs because she has lost her health coverage. The city also allowed her police officer certification to expire, Quaranta said.
Quaranta said a doctor for the city determined she suffered anxiety, depression and paranoia and deemed her unfit to return to duty. She said her own therapist agreed that she has anxiety and depression but not paranoia, and her therapist said she should be discharged on a disability pension, for which she has applied.
“What this city has done to me is not only awful and disgusting, it violates the laws that protect my rights as a human being,” she wrote in a letter to Drew. “It will be handled through the court system and I have no doubt that they will feel the same way.”