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Washington D.C. police chief at center of employment litigation

About a year ago, the U.S. Court of the Appeals reversed a previous court’s decision that had essentially spared D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier a trial revolving around charges that she discriminated against a female African-American commander in the department. Now the chief is at the eye of an employment litigation storm that the plaintiff argues is of Lanier’s own making.

Back in 2007, Lanier was engaged in a reorganization of the department. As part of the restructuring, the chief determined that the plaintiff’s commander position as Director of the Court Liaison Division overseeing communications between MPD and courts and other agencies would be reduced to the rank of captain. 

During a conversation about the demotion between the chief and plaintiff, the chief asked the commander about her plans to stay on the job. After all, the commander had been with the department since 1978.

The commander decided to retire rather than be dropped two ranks to captain. As other news sources have noted, if the plaintiff accepted the demotion, her pension would have been significantly reduced.

However, she later learned that a younger white male had been hired to fill her former position. He was hired at the inspector level; one rank above the captain position she had been offered.

The chief later said that she realized “at the last minute” that the job really required someone in the inspector rank.

Last year’s 2013 U.S. Court of Appeals decision meant a jury and court would settle the dispute between the chief and D.C. police department on one side, and the plaintiff on the other.  

Source: CBS DC, "D.C. Police Chief Taking the Stand at Discrimination Trial," June 17, 2014

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