Corporal Michelle LeBlanc, a 49-year-old Vermont State Police officer, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Public Safety and several of her supervisors because of discrimination against her based on gender, age, complaining openly about the discrimination and being a whistleblower.
LeBlanc has been with the force for 20 years and she was the only female police dog handler for the Vermont State Police from 2005 through 2015. She has had a successful career, according to the VTDigger.
Just during the years, she was working in the K9 unit, she made 172 felony arrests, 460 misdemeanor arrests, seized more than $200,000 worth of drugs and cash, and made 23 “life-saving finds.” She was only the third female K9 handler in the history of the state police.
In the lawsuit, LeBlanc accuses the police department of fighting to keep her out of the K9 unit and then forcing her out prematurely because “as a female, she was not suitable for the K9 team.” Male officers were chosen for positions in the K9 team over her.
It doesn’t stop there. LeBlanc said that in 2016, she was told by another officer in the K9 unit that an email blast had been sent to all of the K9 officers except for her – instructing the team to ostracize LeBlanc.
LeBlanc says this is in retaliation to her for reporting fellow officers that were drinking while in uniform and in driving a police cruiser and another instance where she reported several of her colleagues for committing timecard fraud.
Her honesty led to years of harassment and overt discrimination, including being passed over for promotions in favor of less-qualified but male candidates and being forced to pay for her police dog’s veterinary expenses. None of the other male officers had to foot their dogs’ bills.