MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- The city has terminated Officer Francesca Quaranta, who has been at odds with the police department and city hall since coming out as a transgender woman in 2012.
Mayor Daniel Drew said in a letter to Quaranta that the action was not related to discipline, but is an "administrative separation." Drew wrote that since Quaranta failed a fitness-for-duty evaluation earlier this year and has used up paid time off, he was ending her employment.
"The City of Middletown never forced you out of work and, in fact, attempted to return you to work on multiple occasions," Drew's letter said. "The most recent of these attempts came in the form of [a fitness for duty] evaluation ... to ensure that you were ready to return to full duty as a police officer."
Quaranta has claimed that the department created a hostile work environment after she started reporting for duty as a woman, and filed a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities last year.
Quaranta vowed Friday to continue fighting her termination and what she has described as discrimination because of her gender identity.
"We're going to continue this fight until the end," she said. "In 2014 this is completely unacceptable. I will continue until I ensure that no other person in my situation will have to face this again."
Quaranta has been out of work since requesting administrative leave in August 2013 after filing a complaint about her treatment in the department. The city's human relations director conducted an internal review of the complaint and determined that there had been no harassment of Quaranta by city employees.
"I can confidently say that the City of Middletown has done everything possible to create a safe and welcoming environment for you," Drew wrote. "You have consistently failed to fulfill your responsibilities, to adhere to departmental regulations applied equally and regularly to all officers, and to make any attempt to return to work."
After the internal review was completed, the city ordered Quaranta to attend a fitness-for-duty evaluation with psychologist Nancy Randall, which she failed. Randall noted in the report that Quaranta was not able to safely return to her duties as a police officer, the mayor said.
"If that's her finding, then who is responsible for that? How did this happen? I hold the Middletown Police Department administration responsible for all of Dr. Randall's findings," Quaranta said.
Quaranta refused a second and third request to attend a fitness-for-duty evaluation, arguing that because they were scheduled just a few months after the first evaluation, and she was still out on administrative leave, nothing could have changed. Quaranta and her attorney said the further requests for evaluations amounted to harassment.
"The biggest mistake I ever made was leaving the Rocky Hill Police Department [in 2004 to take a job in Middletown]," she said. "Had I remained there this wouldn't have been an issue. To this day they still remain my friends."
Quaranta said she has begun looking for a new job, but doesn't know what she will do because her police officer certification has expired. She said she was not allowed to attend customary recertification sessions while her case was pending.
Drew said earlier this month that not allowing her to attend the recertification course while on administrative leave is consistent with past practice.
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