The city of Chicago must pay one of its police officers $30,000 after a jury found the Chicago Police Department tolerated discrimination by a police sergeant.
Officer Detlef Sommerfield came to the U.S. from Germany as a child in 1982. As someone whose relatives had been persecuted in the Holocaust—including an aunt who had died in a Nazi concentration camp—Sommerfield was upset when his superior, Sgt. Lawrence Knasiak, called him “Nazi” and “Jew boy.”
Sommerfield first filed an Internal Affairs complaint against Knasiak in 2004. Nothing happened for three years. Finally, in 2007, Internal Affairs substantiated Sommerfield’s claims. It ordered a 10-day suspension for Knasiak, but he elected to retire instead.
Sommerfield continued to pursue the matter, and eventually sued the city in state court. The jury’s award doesn’t end the litigation. Federal discrimination charges against the Chicago P.D. are still pending.
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- Consider consulting an attorney before stating why you terminated an employee
- New Jersey's expanding the window of discrimination liability
- Lost the window office? Sorry, that's not retaliation
- Look for hiring trends that could signal bias—you might just avoid a huge jury award
- Counter retaliation claims by tracking PHRC and EEOC filings, internal complaints