Jury Awards $2.6M to Ex-Patrol Officer

On August 8, 2023, a federal jury granted $2.6 million to a former Ohio State Highway Patrol officer who identifies as gay. The former terminated patrol officer rightfully claimed she was forced to leave her position due to her gender and sexual orientation. After a seven-day trial, the jury of her peers ruled in her favor and brought her justice.  

Yerkes, a self-identified gay individual, brought a lawsuit against the Highway Patrol, her employer from 1994 to 2018, and four immediate superiors from the criminal patrol division. Yerkes claimed she faced discriminatory disciplinary actions based on her gender and sexual orientation, asserting that the penalties she received were more severe than those handed to her male, heterosexual colleagues.

According to the lawsuit, tensions peaked when Yerkes was requested to display a tattoo on her forearm that she had concealed with a medical sleeve. Although revealing the tattoo might have breached the highway patrol rules, Yerkes declined to display it, noting that she used a medically sanctioned sleeve for coverage. 

The jury ultimately agreed and awarded Yerkes more than $1.3 million in compensatory damages, more than $624,000 in back pay and more than $684,000 in front pay, or pay lost had she continued to work.