Elgin Officer Files Discrimination Lawsuit against City

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 31, 2012 | Go to article overview

Elgin Officer Files Discrimination Lawsuit against City


Byline: Tara Garca Mathewson tgarciamathewson@dailyherald.com

An Elgin patrol officer is suing the city and two of its employees for racial discrimination.

Attorneys representing Phillipp Brown, an Elgin officer since 1996, filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court, naming Lt. Sean Rafferty and Internal Investigator James Barnes as co-defendants with the city of Elgin.

The lawsuit says the city failed to stop racial discrimination in the police department or remedy a racially hostile work environment. The suit also alleges the city violated the Family and Medical Leave Act in its treatment of Brown.

Barnes and Rafferty are both named as individuals engaging in racial discrimination within the department.

Rafferty served an unpaid, five-day suspension in August 2011 for behavior in the 1990s, when he posed for a photo next to a historical marker honoring the Indiana Times for its work exposing the Ku Klux Klan. Rafferty was smiling and making "K" signs with his fingers. The police department's suspension order also mentions a "race-based joke" Rafferty texted to Brown, who is black. Both incidents were mentioned in the lawsuit.

Brown is asking the court put an end to the racially hostile work environment detailed in the lawsuit by requiring "prompt and severe discipline against those officers who engage in racially discriminatory conduct toward other officers or the public," according to the suit. The litigation also seeks to force the police department to provide racial sensitivity training for all its employees.

Brown and his attorneys also ask the court to impose a three-year monitoring period to track the city's progress in dismantling the alleged racially hostile work environment. …

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