Ten Black women officers have sued the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, D.C. for experiencing sexual and racial discrimination in the workplace. Plaintiffs in the case have filed a class-action lawsuit calling for $100 million in compensation for experiencing an unsafe and toxic work environment.
Seven out of the 10 women filing the lawsuit are currently serving in the MPD, while three worked with the department in the past. Officer Tiara Brown told NBC Washington that she had been put through situations where she was “relentlessly bullied after expressing her concerns about racist and sexist behavior of some of her fellow officers in the department.”
Every officer involved in the class-action lawsuit attempted to express their discomfort to MPD’s Equal Employment Office (EEO) officials. According to an article by CNN, their complaints to the officials were “to no avail”.
The officers’ complaints were about different respective circumstances. However, their individual complaints were not properly reviewed by EEO officials or reported to appropriate higher authorities.
Donald Temple, one of the lead attorneys on the case, as well as the owner of Temple Law Firm, spoke to The Hilltop regarding the case and its consequences.
The officers’ “complaints were compromised and sabotaged,” Temple said.
“The EEO office’s relationship with management nullified the managerial process. Management was aware of the claims and what they were filing about, who they were filing for, but no complaints were sustained by the EEO office. Discrimination was pervasive with no checks and balances, and there was a blatant refusal to place a system of accountability,” Temple said.
Additionally, officers have also attempted to report possible violations of law. Again, EEO officials had not taken measures to address these issues.
Another lead attorney working on the plaintiff’s case, Pam Keith, told NPR that the workplace environment of MPD is “jocular, disrespectful, hazing, bullying locker room talk”, and “those who oppose it or don’t agree with it…are made to endure the silence and bear the wrath if they do not.”
By speaking out about workplace discrimination and possible illegal conduct in the MPD, the 10 women officers have been alienated and faced retaliation.
Officer Tabatha Knight testified to the City Council that managers working at MPD have been changing crime records to make it seem like cases occurring under their areas of responsibility were far more serious than they actually were.
Knight told NBC Washington that she was “immediately systematically retaliated against, and essentially pushed out of MPD,” for reporting these alterations to MPD and EEO officials.
At a news conference, Officer Kia Mitchell, one of the plaintiffs on the case, said that, “I was so afraid to come forward with it because I just knew they were going to take my contract or not renew my contract.”
According to the article by NBC Washington, Temple Law Firm also stated that “investigative reports of claims of racism and sexism were often altered and fraudulently modified to exonerate management personnel.”
Temple detailed the case’s importance as it pertains to building a safer work environment for all women employees in Washington, D.C.
“We might have to fight for a long time. The government and its offices will correct themselves and the government will appoint a special master to ensure the rights of all employees are respected,” Temple said.
Temple also voiced that all the police officers involved have a combined total of 238 years of experience, defining the case as a landmark case.
Temple elaborated that this case is unique and will set a precedent for future cases.
“One officer may not have the resources and their singular case cannot withstand a governmental counterattack. However, there is strength in a class-action lawsuit and we have evidence that will benefit the case. It’s a rare case in the U.S. where ten women have come together and said we’re gonna take the good, bad, and ugly and fight this together and fight the police department for its injustices,” Temple said.
Meanwhile, MPD told CNN that they are “committed to treating all members fairly and equitably,” and that they “take these allegations seriously.”
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