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Black Female Lieutenant Wins Race and Gender Discrimination Case Against Office of Naval Intelligence

by | May 10, 2024 | Case Results

The judge agreed to an unusually strong set of remedies including recommending the agency take disciplinary action against the Chief of Police, a reflection of the extensive discrimination Lt. Sands experienced

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a remarkable decision, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that Lorraine Sands, a Lieutenant at the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), was discriminated against based on her gender and race when ONI passed over her twice for the position of Captain. In addition to granting financial awards like back pay and $115,000 in compensatory damages, the administrative judge also ruled that the selection official involved in the hiring process for the role, Chief of Police Kevin Putnam, and two interview panelists must recuse themselves from all hiring processes related to Lt. Sands for the next five years. Chief Putnam must also attend training. Most notably, though the EEOC cannot order the agency to discipline selecting officials, the administrative judge recommended that the agency discipline Chief Putnam.

Lt. Sands has worked at ONI since 2003 and became the first Black female lieutenant in 2012. In 2014, she filled the role of acting Captain, and when a permanent Captain position opened up four years later, Lt. Sands applied. She was passed over and told she was the runner-up applicant. Then, in 2020, when the position opened up again, she applied and was once again not selected for the role after Chief Putnam questioned her law enforcement academy graduation certificate – nearly two decades after she began working at the agency and even after she presented evidence of her having graduated. When the individual who was hired declined the position, the agency pushed Lt. Sands back to an acting Captain role. In the meantime, ONI management sought to eliminate the open Captain position entirely.

The administrative judge found that there were inconsistencies and biases evident in the decision-making during the Captain hiring processes. This case is just the latest to reveal longer-standing systemic issues of racial discrimination at ONI. Several other Black police officers (including Black female corporals) at ONI have come forward and said that Chief Putnam is racist and sexist regarding hiring practices and assignment of promotion or job duties.


About Gilbert Employment Law, P.C.
Gilbert Employment Law, P.C., is the worker’s voice in litigation involving employee rights violations. Gilbert’s attorneys are highly skilled in representing federal employees before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other federal administrative agencies. Gilbert Employment Law, P.C., has also represented employees in county and state courts, as well as U.S. District and Appeals Courts.

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