Thursday, January 21, 2010

Police Chief Resigns Amidst Charges of Discrimination and Retaliation

Following the $30 million legal battle over the alleged discrimination and retaliation committed by the Montebello police chief against his officers, Police Chief Dan Weast resigned recently.

Last October, several police officers filed a complaint against Chief Weast, which claimed that he discriminated against qualified minority candidates and only promoted his friends as well as other officers who belonged to an “all-white” group called Mahan’s Marauders.

Morale has dropped low within the department and there was even a 90% vote of no confidence in the police chief issued by the Montebello Police Officers Association.

The suit filed by the officers against Weast is seeking $30 million in damages although the amount has been reduced to less than a quarter of it following talks over the settlement.

Following the same laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on gender, race, color, religion and disability, employers are likewise prohibited from retaliating against employees who have validly complained discriminatory practices or labor violations.

An employer may not fire, demote, harass or otherwise "retaliate" against an individual for:

• Filing a charge of discrimination
• Participating in a discrimination proceeding
• Opposing discrimination or unlawful practices
• Requesting accommodations related to employment discrimination
• Refusing to obey an order reasonably believed to be discriminatory
• Threatening to file a charge of discrimination

There is retaliation against the employee who complained when he or she is subjected to adverse actions such as denial of promotion, termination, harassment, or even filing groundless cases against the employee to intimidate or coerce the employee into foregoing the action against the employer.

While $30 Million worth of damages may seem exorbitant, employers found guilty of discrimination and retaliation against their employees will be held liable for compensation which may include back pay, front pay, policy changes, actual damages, damages for emotional distress and punitive damages.