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Pennsylvania police chief accused of racial bias

A police chief from Coastville was unable to get the court to dismiss racial bias claims against him in a case brought by a former officer. The officer said that the police chief created and perpetuated a hostile work environment and discriminated against him because he is black. In addition, the officer says he was denied promotions and was subject to harsher disciplinary standards that other officers of similar rank.

The police chief moved to dismiss the claims, which defendants can do when they believe that the employee suing them has not really suffered from any wrongdoing or otherwise lacks the necessary components for a legitimate lawsuit. The chief told the court that the officer had not adequately exhausted the internal complaint procedure, which is necessary in many cases before resorting to a lawsuit.

The judge who reviewed the case found that regardless of whether he used the internal grievance process, the officer did present an adequate claim alleging that there was systematic discrimination within the police department. Since the allegations in the lawsuit include the fact that the chief participated in the discrimination and perpetuated the hostile work environment, the police department itself will likely be liable if the allegations are true.

The lawsuit also says that the police chief conspired with a group of officers known as the "Dirty Half-Dozen" to perpetuate the discrimination and workplace harassment.

If these allegations are true it is another shocking example of racism in the workplace that most Pennsylvania residents believe no longer exists. Unfortunately racial discrimination happens in many workplaces around the state, and employees should know that they have a right to be free from that type of illegal harassment.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Claims of Racial Bias May Stick to PA Police Chief," Rose Bouboushian, Jan. 8, 2012.

More information about employee rights is available on our Pittsburgh racial discrimination page.

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