Though one of the first openly lesbian cops at the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), Tammy Franks' sexuality didn't block her impressive rise through the ranks to the position of commander or prevent her from collecting numerous commendations for her public service.
But the commander's 28-year career didn't end well on Jan. 29 when she reluctantly retired.
In a lawsuit she filed this week, Franks claims a misogynistic and anti-gay subordinate officer targeted her for gender and sexual orientation discrimination by falsely claiming she'd created a hostile work environment, and chief Carlos Rojas improperly used that complaint in February 2014 as a pretext to rob her of earned authority.
The lawsuit starts with a minor mystery: She identified her subordinate antagonist only as "Informant" but also described him as the author of And God Made Eve and Why Your Husband Hates You, books written by SAPD officer Pete Bollinger.
According to the lawsuit, Bollinger earned an official reprimand for misconduct before his December 2013 retirement, acted as if he'd been targeted by SAPD lesbians who hate males and filed a complaint against Franks, who was at the time in charge of the Internal Affairs unit, as well as two other officers perceived as gay.
"The Informant did not file complaints against the heterosexual male sergeant who actually conducted the investigation of the Informant, the heterosexual male lieutenant who actually made the discipline recommendation against the Informant, the heterosexual male captain that reviewed the investigation of the Informant and confirmed on the recommended discipline, the heterosexual male senior management team members who reviewed the investigation of the Informant and conferred on the recommended discipline, or the heterosexual male police chief who reviewed the investigation of the Informant and conferred on the recommended discipline," the lawsuit states.
In Franks' view, Bollinger's books espouse beliefs "suggesting that women do not belong in law enforcement" and "that women are obligated to provide more oral sex to their husbands and should provide their husbands with dinner and refrain from engaging them in conversation upon returning home from their work day because the men are tired and deserve to be served," according to the lawsuit.
Despite knowing the officer allegedly "harbored bigotry toward women and homosexuals," Rojas reacted to his January 2014 hostile work environment complaint against Franks by placing her on administrative leave and demanding that she surrender her badge, service weapon, police vehicle and office access card while he conducted an investigation, according to the lawsuit. He also shut down her office email account and ordered her escorted out of the building in view of her colleagues.
Franks claims she was singled out for unprecedented abuse not levied against straight male officers guilty of "sexual harassment, threatening a subordinate with physical violence, domestic violence, lewd or sexual misconduct, and creating a hostile work environment."
While Rojas took seven months to announce the complaint was "unfounded" and Franks was reinstated, the process "damaged her ability to effective lead and manage her division" and caused "humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress," the lawsuit states.
Franks, who says she is married to another SAPD officer, seeks $25,000 from the defendants plus unspecified damages to be determined at trial.
Inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna will preside.
City lawyers have not yet filed their response to the case and attempts to contact Bollinger were not successful at press time.