SAN FRANCISCO—Kim Lee and Danielle Dillard, two San Francisco Sheriff Department employees, are suing the city after being forced to be silent at work by their employer. 

As stated in their lawsuit, both women were given cease and desist orders in March 2019 preventing them from talking to anyone at work. They were ordered to not talk to any employees of the city or the county of San Francisco. Both women work in the Warrant Division and have been with the department for over 19 years. 

 As stated by the San Francisco Chronicle, in the lawsuit Lee said that she was told to, “Come to work, do your job, and just leave,” by her supervisor. “So I just didn’t talk to nobody,” said Lee. “I’d sometimes cry at my desk because I want to talk to my friends. Those people were my friends and I couldn’t talk to my friends.”

According to the lawsuit, Dillard “has not spoken at the workplace for fear of losing her job. Because of this, Ms. Dillard would spend her lunch and rest times crying due to the hostile atmosphere she found herself in, not being able to speak at all to colleague,” since March 2019.

Problems began after the women complained of discrimination in the office and were given write-ups. They were told repeatedly not to bring that “monkey junk” into the workplace even after displaying their dislike for the phrase. They tried to explain their discomfort through the chain of command, but received no follow up. 

The women are being represented by former San Francisco Supervisor, Angela Alioto, who says the suit was filed Monday, August 3.

“I don’t know how they have made it this long, all those months without being able to speak and the frustration being so horrible that they literally would cry on their lunch break or they would cry, you know, when they go home all night because they’re under these strict, oppressive rules not to speak. It’s crazy!,” Alioto responded after hearing the evidence according to the San Fransisco Chronicle. 

The city and county of San Francisco is being sued for harassment and failure to prevent discrimination. A spokesperson for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department said they do not want to comment and declined to make Captain James Quanico available for an interview, who is in charge of Lee and Dillard’s unit. 

Alioto stated that she would like the department to urgently end their communication restriction on employees.Lee and Dillard must go to work until the hearing and court decision.