Issues of prejudice and discrimination are always sensitive topics. Oftentimes, acts of discrimination are subtle and may be difficult to prove. This can be especially true in a workplace setting, where the employer maintains a certain degree of discretion to hire, fire and reprimand workers as he or she deems appropriate. In order to establish that workplace discrimination has taken place, it must be proven that the alleged victim in the incident was treated differently than someone else would be under similar circumstances. Minnesota workers and people across the country can see how complex it is to navigate discrimination issues by considering this recent lawsuit.
After being fired for allegedly mistreating a suspect by using pepper spray and physical force, a police officer is claiming that the police department issued a more severe punishment for him because of his race. The officer does not deny acting out of line in the incident for which he was dismissed, but contends that other officers have received lesser penalties for similar offenses.
In his lawsuit, the man outlines several incidents where his fellow officers either mistreated citizens or abused their authority — only to be issued relatively light chastisement by their superiors in the police department.
The man filing the suit, who is black, has been a police officer with the same organization for 21 years. He alleges that race discrimination resulted in his firing because other officers who allegedly committed similar offenses are white and Asian but received relatively light disciplinary actions.
When dealing with accusations of discrimination such as this, it is not up to the court to judge whether or not the alleged victim acted inappropriately in the original incident but if his punishment was influenced the color of his skin.
Source: The Examiner, “Ex-Metro policeman files discrimination lawsuit,” Liz Essley, Jan. 30, 2013