Michigan District Court Finds Two White Police Officers Experienced Reverse Discrimination

By: Loyd Willaford and Sarah Burke

In O’Brien v. City of Benton Harbor, two white Michigan police officers alleged they experienced reverse race discrimination after the black city manager terminated them so that he could promote a black employee to police chief. A District Court in Michigan found the officers had direct evidence to support their alleged claim of discrimination because the city manager told officers they were the wrong color to be the chief because they were not black.

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Alabama District Court Finds Police Dispatcher Was Not Discriminated Against After She Was Terminated For Failing to Update Responding Officers to Presence of Gun

By: Loyd Willaford and Sarah Burke

In Matthews v. City of Mobile, an African American police dispatcher in Alabama was terminated from her position after failing to update officers responding to a call of the presence of an armed suspect. The dispatcher argued that she was being discriminated against and retaliated against for previously filing EEOC complaints. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama disagreed and found the dispatcher had failed to demonstrate she had been treated differently than similarly situated co-workers and dismissed her claims.

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Seventh Circuit Finds that Juvenile Detention Employee Could Not Bring Race Discrimination Claim After Supervisor Threatens He Would “Take Them To The Woodshed”

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Carothers v. County of Cook, the Seventh Circuit found that a black employee at a juvenile detention center could not move forward with her Title VII race discrimination claim, despite evidence that her supervisor had told a group of employees he would “take them to the woodshed” and made a problematic comment about Malcom X. In her complaint, the employee alleged not only race discrimination, but also disability discrimination, gender discrimination, and retaliation. The Court found that because the statements were not made by the ultimate decision maker, the woodshed statement did not hold racial connotations, and the Malcom X comment was made three years prior, the County’s motion for summary judgment was appropriate.

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Eighth Circuit Finds St. Louis Police Officer Suffered Adverse Employment Action Despite Having No Change in Pay, Benefits, or Rank

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Bonenberger v. St. Louis Metro. Police Dept., a white police officer applied for and was denied the position of Assistant Academy Director of the St. Louis, Missouri Police Academy, an African American woman was chosen instead. The police officer sued department officials alleging race discrimination and conspiracy to discriminate. A jury found in the officer’s favor on claims against three of his superiors regarding both claims. The department appealed the district court’s denial of their motion for a judgment as a matter of law.

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Pennsylvania District Court Finds Correctional Officer Who Violated Legitimate Rule Can Move Forward With Claim of Race Discrimination

credit-cardBy Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In McWilliams v. Cmty. Educ. Ctrs., Inc., an African American correctional officer was terminated for violating a fraternization policy after he helped an inmate deposit money into his prison account. The officer alleged the termination was racially discriminatory and that the prison had allowed a hostile work environment. The U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania found that the officer had established a disparate treatment claim by alleging his punishment was not comparable to white officers who had broken the same rule and the office had established a hostile work environment claim by alleging black officers were subjected to pictures of nooses.

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Arbitrator Finds No Evidence To Prove Discrimination Of Federal Bureau of Prisons, When No Officer Corroborates Events

behind-barsBy Jim Cline and Geoff Kiernan

In Federal Bureau of Prisons, an arbitrator ruled that a corrections officer could not sustain his claim that the Federal Bureau of Prisons discriminated against him for being Hispanic. This finding was largely because none of his co-workers corroborated his story and thus there was no evidence to substantiate his claim.

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Virginia District Court Finds FBI Special Agents Were Not Discriminated Against After Being Called “Princesses” and “Prima Donnas”

tiaraBy: Sarah Burke and Mitchell Riese

In Cowley v. Lynch, four FBI special agents alleged that the FBI had created a hostile work environment, discriminated against them based on their sex in denying them transfers, and had retaliated against them by reorganizing their department in order to break up their “clique.” The FBI argued that the restructuring and transfer denials were due to legitimate department needs and that a hostile work environment had not been established. The district court agreed with the FBI, finding that stray comments made around the agents did not rise to the level of hostile work environment and that the reasons for the restructuring and transfer were legitimate.

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Michigan African-American Officer’s Racial Discrimination Claim Barred After He Was Terminated For Fraudulently Issuing Traffic Ticket

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Harrison Owens

RacialDiscriminationPaperDollsIn Burns v. City of Saginaw, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Michigan District Court’s dismissal of an African-American police officer’s claim for retaliation against his employer after he was terminated for issuing a fraudulent ticket.  In his complaint, the officer claimed that he had been terminated in retaliation for filing a complaint with the EEOC, and that the police chief of his Department, who is white, used a racial slur against him in relation to his EEOC complaint.  The Court dismissed his claim on summary judgment on the grounds that the officer’s EEOC complaint was actually filed following the citizen complaint relating to the fraudulent ticket, a white officer had similarly been terminated for filing a false accident report, and the police chief’s alleged racial slur was hearsay.

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Florida Female Firefighter Prevails in Lawsuit Against City for Gender-Based Discrimination

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

no-girls-allowed2In Smith v. City of New Smyrna Beach, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a jury decision awarding a former female firefighter a total of $444,000 in damages for the gender-based discrimination she suffered from the city of New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The female firefighter sued the City for creating a hostile work environment and wrongfully terminating her. At trial, the jury agreed with all of her claims, resulting in the substantial award. Although the City appealed the verdict, the Court of Appeals affirmed the results of the trial, including the substantial monetary award and the female’s reinstatement as a firefighter.

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Qualified Immunity Protects Connecticut Police Chief from Claim that His Actions Created A Hostile Work Environment for Women

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

see hear speak 2In Raspardo v. Carlone, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that qualified immunity protected a Connecticut police chief from claims that his actions and supervision of the city police department created a hostile work environment for women. Three female police officers, two former and one current, sued their police chief, claiming that he failed to properly supervise or investigate the conduct of subordinate police officers who allegedly sexually harassed them. The Court held that qualified immunity protected the police chief from the claim because the female officers could not show that his own actions were sufficient to create a hostile work environment nor that he was grossly negligent in supervising his subordinate officers.

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