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2 female Southampton police sergeants file discrimination claim

Two female Southampton Town police sergeants have filed state complaints against the town and the police department, claiming they were discriminated against because of their gender, according to the town attorney.

Sgt. Lisa Costa -- the head of the department's detectives division -- and Sgt. Susan Ralph filed the discrimination complaints with the New York State Division of Human Rights earlier this month, claiming that department officials engaged in a discriminatory "course of conduct" involving promotions and assignments, Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said Wednesday.

"At this point they're merely allegations," Scarlato said.

The state Human Rights Division would neither confirm nor deny that the complaints were filed, as is policy, a department spokeswoman said.

If the state determines there is probable cause for the complaints, it will hold hearings on the claims, the spokeswoman said.

The town will be permitted to respond to the allegations.

"We do cooperate with these investigations," Scarlato said.

After any hearings, an administrative judge could dismiss the claim or recommend a monetary award, fines against the department, or policy changes and additional training.

Complainants can also go to civil court.

Former Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson promoted Costa to the title of "acting lieutenant" last year after the town board failed to respond to his recommendation to officially promote her, according to town records.

Wilson resigned in December and was replaced by Chief Robert Pearce. After the change in leadership, Costa's title was changed back to sergeant, records show.

Neither Costa nor Ralph could be reached for comment. Their lawyer, Leonard Leeds of Carle Place, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pearce also could not immediately be reached.

The town's police department is the largest police force on the East End, with more than 100 officers.

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