Female Ruston police supervisor sues chief, city

A federal lawsuit filed by a sergeant against the Ruston Police Department alleges its command staff discriminated against her as a female employee. Ruston Police Sgt. Kayla D. Loyd filed the lawsuit recently in the U.S. District Court of Western Louisiana, alleging she has been discriminated against because of her gender. The lawsuit names Deputy Chief Henry Wood, Chief Steve Rogers and the City of Ruston as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges Loyd was treated differently than other SWAT team members by a lack of equipment and training other team members received, was denied opportunities to serve as an investigator, was belittled and berated in front of her subordinates, and suffered retaliation for seeking help from Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker.

A former soldier who served with the 82 nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, Loyd joined the Ruston Police Department in 2013. She was accepted onto the department’s SWAT Team after graduating from the Lafayette SWAT School in 2014. She alleges she was treated differently than her male counterparts when Wood was appointed as
her commanding officer in 2015.

Loyd was allegedly not given the same equipment as male SWAT team members, which included gloves and uniforms, and was issued a poor-quality rifle when a better one was available. According to the suit, her requests for comparable training and equipment were ignored.

In 2020, according to the court filing, a new standard for SWAT members was implemented that included a rifle course, a pistol course, and a physical fitness standard. Officers were told those who failed the standards would be removed from the team. When Loyd passed the standards with subpar equipment and some male teammates did not, the standards were ignored, and no one was removed from the team.

In January 2020, Wood allegedly criticized Loyd’s work as a shift supervisor and threatened to remove her as supervisor but refused to specify his grievances with her performance.

The lawsuit says Wood has yelled at, belittled, and berated Loyd on multiple occasions in the presence of officers under her supervision and civilians to discredit her. The harassment allegedly became so severe it was brought to the attention of other officers and eventually brought to Rogers’s attention.

During the entirety of her employment at the Ruston Police Department, it has been led by Steve Rogers. The lawsuit states Rogers has allegedly hindered Loyd’s career for much of her tenure and was made aware of her being denied training. The lawsuit alleges Loyd did not begin receiving training until she spoke with Mayor Walker about the issue.

The lawsuit states Rogers was made aware of Sgt. Loyd’s desire and qualification to expand her career into the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) as documented in letters in 2017 and 2020. The decision to appoint an officer to the division is solely up to Rogers, according to the lawsuit. Despite repeated requests to move to CID, Rogers allegedly appointed five male officers on five separate occasions and asked them to accept appointments in those positions even though the officers had not expressed interest or applied for the positions.

The lawsuit states Loyd was more qualified and experienced than three of the officers and a competitive applicant with the other two. Loyd was allegedly given no explanation why she was not considered for CID and believes it was because of her gender. Chief Rogers has never appointed a female to the Criminal Investigative Division during his nearly 15-year tenure as police chief. Only a handful of female officers have been hired by RPD during that time.

Rogers was allegedly made aware of the hostile work environment and harassment perpetrated by Wood, the lawsuit states, but failed to correct the situation. Loyd believes Rogers’s failure to remedy the situation is retaliation for asking for assistance from Mayor Walker.

The lawsuit alleges that despite official grievances, complaints, and personal meetings where Loyd provided evidence, the City of Ruston neglected to intervene and has allowed her to continue to suffer discrimination and exclusion.

After exhausting all other avenues of redress, Loyd filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued her the right to file a lawsuit.

Attempts to contact representatives of the Police Department were unsuccessful due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

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