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Bias against German cop costs Chicago $30,000

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

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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