By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
TAMWORTH — A gay woman who spent 20 years in the ranks of the New Hampshire State Police has settled her employment discrimination suit that claimed she was repeatedly passed over for promotion based on her gender and sexual orientation.
Under the terms of the agreement, Carrie Nolet of Chocorua will be offered part-time temporary employment with State Police. She will work twice a month for a six-month period as a Program Specialist III, focusing on policy review and development in the areas of training, recruitment, promotion, peer to peer, and women in leadership.
She will also be reimbursed the $750 cost of filing her federal lawsuit. The state will additionally pick up the tab for mediation totaling $2,880.
Under the terms of the agreement released under a Right-to-Know request, signed by Nolet and Assistant Commissioner Robert Quinn, neither side admits liability or wrongdoing, and both have agreed to drop all claims against each other.
Not until 1982, after a voluntary consent decree was reached due to intervention by the U.S. Department of Justice, did the New Hampshire Department of Safety, Division of State Police began recruiting and admitted women to its ranks.
Nolet, who became the first female trooper in New Hampshire to attend the FBI Academy, had alleged in her suit filed in U.S. District Court in Concord, that the culture was rife with pervasive incidents of gender bias and sexual harassment.
The state denied that Nolet was treated differently when, as a result of her promotion to lieutenant, she was required to report to Concord daily, resulting in an 11-hour day for which she was paid for just eight.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Woodard Ross, said the promotion shifted Nolet from the collective bargaining agreement that covers troopers to the contract for the State Employees Association, which has different provisions for travel. Nolet's travel mandate was the same as other troopers who rose to the rank of lieutenant, she said.
In 2003, Nolet was deployed to a combat zone in Iraq as Alpha Company Commander of the 368th Combat Heavy Engineer Battalion. She also served in Kuwait and directly commanded 135 soldiers. In 2004, she returned from wartime deployment and resumed her job as Detective Sergeant at Troop E, whose patrol area includes Carroll and Belknap Counties.
Representing herself, without benefit of a lawyer, Nolet had sought a retroactive promotion to Field Area Captain and an court order restraining state police from future unlawful discriminatory conduct and practices. She also asked that her retirement benefits be recalculated to reflect the rank of captain, and had sought unspecified economic damages, including back pay.
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