NEW YORK (AP) — A lawsuit brought by a retired East Haven, Connecticut, police department employee was reinstated Tuesday by an appeals court in Manhattan.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Dyanna Green can try to prove that her punishment for taking a container of biscuits from the department’s communal refrigerator was part of age discrimination.
Green was 58 and working in the department’s records division in 2012 when she says the department’s bosses created a hostile work environment to force retirement after hiring someone else half her age to replace a recently retired worker in the division. Facing a disciplinary hearing, she quit.
Lawyers in the case did not return messages seeking comment.
In December 2014, Green maintained she took one of two canisters of buttermilk biscuits dough to her desk, planning to bake them at home and bring them back for the department’s officers and staff, the appeals court said.
But before Green went home, a police lieutenant sent an email to department employees demanding that the missing canister be returned.
When Green tried to return it, she encountered the police chief standing by the refrigerator, which had yellow “crime scene” tape sealing it, the appeals court said.
Green was placed on administrative leave with pay. After meeting with a union representative and a police investigator, she resigned.
The appeals court disagreed with a lower-court judge who said an employee in Green’s position wouldn’t have known her firing was inevitable. The lower-court judge had dismissed the lawsuit.
The 2nd Circuit said the department’s handling of the “biscuits affair was hardly ordinary” and the lower-court’s view that there was no reason for Green to think she would lose her disciplinary hearing was “contradicted by the evidence.”