The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court finding that Arlington county police officer Linda K. Fisher Shortt was the victim of sex discrimination when she was placed on partrol duty at reduced pay.

Shortt was one of the first female officers hired in Arlington after a county policy decision in 1971 to recruit women. For a time after that decision, however, the county deemed Shortt and other females unsuited for patrol work because of their sex and placed her immediately in an investigator's job.

When male officers objected that females were being unfairly allowed to bypass a year of probationary duty as a patrol officer, the county reversed its policy and began assigning the women to patrol work.

When Shortt was placed on patrol duty, her pay was cut to a level paid to patrol officers with her experience and she filed suit charging the pay cut was an act of sex discrimination.

U.S. District Court Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. of Alexandria agreed and ordered the county to pay her more than $5,000 in back salary and $6,000 in attorney fees.

In upholding Bryan's ruling, a unanimous, three judge appeals court panel said it would be unfair to penalize Shortt for the preference that the county originally gave to female officers by allowing them to bypass the obligatory year on patrol.