Philadelphia Employment Law News

Coatesville Police: Sex Scandal and Now Racial Discrimination?

It seems like the police force in Coatesville can't catch a break. Perhaps this is their own fault though. About 5 years ago, the Coatesville Police completed an investigation into 5 officers accused of sexually assaulting a woman while on duty, recommending that the officers be fired, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Instead of being fired, these white officers were allegedly promoted over their minority counterparts, according to a lawsuit filed by Coatesville Police Corporal Larry Cooper, reports the Inquirer. The suit alleges that the police department practices intentional discrimination in both hiring and promotion, with claims that the population of Coatesville is 46% black while the police force is only 15% black, according to the complaint on Courthouse News.

Racial discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits an employer from discriminating based on race by failing to hire a person, firing or disciplining an employee, paying an employee less, not providing benefits, or segregating employees.

Pennsylvania has its own specific anti-discrimination laws, but they do not apply to law enforcement, federal agencies or certain other agencies.

Here, Cooper makes his case with information that could possibly show a discriminatory intent. Showing only an unequal proportion of employees is usually not enough to prove discrimination. However, if there is proof to back up the allegations of other officers making racially charged comments about minority officers, the case is likely to stand.

A discrimination case is always a difficult one to prove, because the police department only need show that there were non-discriminatory reasons for Cooper's lack of earlier promotion and non-hiring of black officers. However, Cooper's claims cover quite a bit of ground for there to be feasible explanations for each.

Given that there was an investigation into officers' sexual abuse that was never acted upon, it's probably safe to say that there is some sort of mismanagement going on in Coatesville. Hopefully a federal discrimination lawsuit will shake the place up a bit.

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