A Bellmore woman suing the U.S. Capitol police for sex discrimination was set to be deposed for a second time on Monday, after she produced new evidence that the force may have fired her improperly last year, according to court documents.
In papers filed in U.S. District Court last summer, Chris Sourgoutsis, 32, claimed that a pattern of belittling began during her training in Georgia to become a Capitol officer.
“Honestly, I'm somebody who believes in following my gut, so I felt the harassment and the discrimination from the beginning,” she said in an interview last November. “But being a child of immigrant parents who taught me to just keep moving forward, I tried to just brush it under the rug.”
According to recent court filings, Sourgoutsis has introduced new evidence, including entries from her journal and medical records related to her the discriminatory treatment she alleged.
Attorneys for the Capitol police requested a seven-hour deposition, on top of the six-hour interview they already conducted with Sourgoutsis, while she argued that seven hours would be excessive.
U.S. District Court Judge Robin Meriweather, on July 7, ordered that attorneys for the Capitol police be allowed five and a half additional hours to interview Sourgoutsis — a compromise.
Among the infractions for which Sourgoutsis was written up while in training were: being in improper uniform, talking on a cell phone during lunch and, on one occasion, sitting down briefly on a low stone wall during a double shift watching the Capitol Visitors Center.
According to Sourgoutsis, she was demeaned by superiors because of her gender, as well.
Eventually, she was stripped of her weapon and badge, with little explanation or chance of recourse, Sourgoutsis claimed in court documents.
According to Sourgoutsis, she also told an investigator, “This is not a woman-oriented department.”
Sourgoutsis said she was denied the right to speak to her union representation prior to her final meeting, and was simply told that the human resources department was recommending her termination.
When called by the Herald, a Capitol police spokeswoman had no comment about this case. In court documents, however, the Capitol police dispute Sourgoutsis’s claim, including her characterization of various meetings with superiors, and say that she took the legal route before exhausting her other options.
Capitol police officials say that all actions toward or against Sourgoutsis “were taken for legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons,” according to court documents, adding that Sourgotsis’s claims for damages are “speculative in nature.”
They have asked that a federal court throw out the suit with prejudice, which would mean that Sourgoutsis could not file another suit for the same claim.
Sourgoutsis has also requested two subpoenas, including one for the Office of the Inspector General General, which attorneys for the Capitol police have asked be quashed.
Discovery in the case is currently set to end on Sept. 6.