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Springfield to pay officer $150,000 for ongoing discrimination

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Hiring,Human Resources

The city of Springfield must pay $150,000 to former patrol officer Rickey Davis, who sued the city for discrimination and retaliation. The U.S. District Court, Central District, in Springfield, denied the city’s appeal for a new trial.

Davis claimed the Springfield Police Department refused to transfer him from night patrol to the Criminal Investigations Division for five years because he had spoken out against racial discrimination in the department.

The court found that the weight of the evidence supported Davis’ claims. Many witnesses testified that Davis complained about discriminatory practices in the department. He wrote a paper critical of the department’s hiring practices while attending command school and gave the paper to Police Chief John Harris. He filed complaints with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the EEOC.

The department argued that failing to transfer an employee was not an adverse employment action. The court noted, however, that if it was enough to dissuade an employee from making discrimination charges, it could be considered a retaliatory act.

Finally, the court found the department’s stated reasons for denying Davis’ transfer requests unconvincing. The department said it transferred certain officers for cross-training purposes, but it posted the positions. Further, if it was transferring employees for cross-training purposes, it should have been cross-training Davis as well.

Note: Courts look unfavorably on unclear or shifting reasons for adverse employment actions. Be sure you clearly spell out and document the reasons for your actions. Then stick to them.

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