Federal trial against Lake sheriff's office starts

A federal trial is under way involving a female Lake County sheriff's deputy who claims she has been subjected to sexual discrimination by her superiors.

Heather Aldridge, a 17-year veteran of the sheriff's office, claims she was subjected to unwarranted disciplinary warnings and other negative actions while working as a K-9 officer.

According to the 2011 lawsuit, Aldridge contends she and another female deputy had to reapply to get new K-9s after their dogs retired because of age in 2009.

Aldridge alleges in her lawsuit that before 2009, male officers were assigned new K-9s when their dogs retired without having to reapply for the position.

Aldridge also contends that when she was awarded a new canine by the sheriff's office, administrators used minor complaints filed against her to reassign her out of the unit.

The result of Aldridge's reassignment from canine duty, according to the lawsuit, was a substantial loss of additional pay and prestige.

The suit seeks compensatory damages, the amount of income she says she lost after being relieved of canine duty, her reinstatement as a canine officer and whatever other relief the court deems appropriate.

Lake County Undersheriff Ray Rose said, “it would be inappropriate to make any comment,” due to the jury trial. However, he added, “Obviously the sheriff's office perspective of the claims is much different from the plaintiff's. The sheriff's office is committed to developing and providing a workforce that reflects the community we serve.”

The other female deputy is not named as a plaintiff in the suit.

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