In October 2013, an African American police officer filed a lawsuit against the city of Richmond, CA and the city’s police chief, claiming that he suffered harassment at work due to his race. The suit is the latest in a number of racial harassment suits that have been filed against Richmond’s police chief.
Lawsuit claims racial harassment
The documents in the officer’s suit stated that he was subjected to “differential terms and conditions of employment” because of his race. The suit also claimed that the officer was exposed to “adverse employment actions and harassment” and “excessive scrutiny, criticism and discipline” that similarly situated Caucasian officers did not undergo. The officer joined the Richmond police force in 2003, and he said that he received “exceptional” reviews for the three years he was with the force before the current police chief was hired. The suit states that lies and racial harassment have prevented the officer from advancing in his career.
The officer was fired in 2006 for allegedly lying about using excessive force on a homeless man, but won his job back through arbitration. He also was fired in March 2009, again for allegations of using excessive force on a man the officer saw smoking crack. A jury acquitted the officer of charges that resulted from the incident, and the officer regained his job. The officer has been on administrative duty for more than a year, after an incident with his neighbor, and the suit claims that this prevents him from gaining field experience necessary for promotions.
The suit also alleges that the department denies him opportunities to work overtime shifts, costing the officer about $90,000 per year in compensation. The officer is seeking $5 million for his losses.
Other racial harassment suits against city
The Richmond police chief has faced other allegations of racial harassment. In 2007, seven high-ranking African American members of the Richmond police force filed suit against Richmond and the police chief, seeking $18 million in damages for racial harassment. The officers claimed that the chief repeatedly used racial slurs in their presence, and that he and his deputy chief instituted a systemic policy of racial discrimination in the police department.
Speak with an attorney
No one should have to endure racial harassment while they are trying to earn a living. Racial harassment is against the law, and employers have a responsibility to make sure that it does not occur in the workplace. Employers who are aware of racial harassment and do not take steps to prevent it are as responsible as those who are actively engaged in harassing others because of race. If you have suffered racial harassment at work, talk to a skilled employment law attorney who can discuss your situation with you and advise you about your options.