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Philadelphia acting sheriff accused of racial discrimination

Four former employees of the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in federal court recently. The former employees say that the acting sheriff who took over for an elected sheriff after an unexpected resignation discriminated against African Americans in the department.

The acting sheriff told reporters that the claims were false and that she did not know about the lawsuit but was aware of an EEOC complaint that was filed previously.

In our last post we wrote about sexual harassment in the Philadelphia Police Department. It is truly astounding to continue to see government employers charged with protecting the public from wrongdoing acting in this way. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable and illegal in Pennsylvania and nationwide for both public and private employers. We should be able to expect that government employers uphold federal employment law, but unfortunately that is not always the case.

One of the employees says that she was demoted from a position in Internal Affairs to a position as a uniformed officer. The demotion caused her significant emotional distress which led to her taking sick leave for a period of time.

Another employee alleged that he was fired because he spoke up about the sheriff's offensive comments about the African American female employee's bodies. The third plaintiff says that she was referred to simply as the "black girl" and was fired in late 2011.

A fourth former employee said that she experienced retaliation after she took medical leave and was demoted and her job was given to a contractor.

Source: Philadelphia Post- Inquirer, "4 Sheriff's Office ex-workers sue, alleging race bias," Miriam Hill, August 10, 2012.

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