A former Baltimore detective who faced illegal retaliation from his fellow police officers settled his lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department. Joseph Crystal testified against two police officers who he witnessed assaulting a suspect during an arrest. Under the law, all employees who report illegal conduct by their co-workers or by their employer are protected against retaliation.
Unfortunately, in response to Crystal's courageous act, he faced many acts of illegal intimidation and harassment by his fellow officers, including:
- Failing to provide Crystal with backup when he requested it
- Harassing Crystal, calling him a snitch and a rat
- Placing a rat on the windshield of his car
Forced to deal with this toxic environment, Crystal left the department and brought a $5 million lawsuit against the city of Baltimore.
The terms of the settlement
Crystal and the city eventually settled the suit for $42,000. In an unusual event, Crystal and the city presented a joint statement about the case. Although the city did not deny that Crystal was the victim of retaliation by his fellow officers, it did state that it took all reasonable efforts to investigate these acts and identify the perpetrators. Unfortunately, they were unable to do so.
As a result of the lawsuit, the Baltimore Police Department is now training officers about whistleblower protection. According to the police department, officers will be trained that they have a duty to report police officer misconduct, and that whistleblowers will be protected.
Employers that retaliate against employees who exercise their legal rights must be held accountable for their illegal actions. As this case demonstrates, employers also have a duty to protect their employees from retaliation from co-workers.
If you face retaliation for whistleblowing or engaging in other protected conduct, a lawyer will be critical in helping you take action. For decades, employees across Maryland have placed their trust in the attorneys of Thatcher Law Firm.
Sources: Settlement Reached In Baltimore Police Whistleblower Case, CBS Baltimore, June 1, 2016, by Mike Hellgren, Baltimore Settles 'Ratgate' Lawsuit With Former Officer, WBALTV, June 1, 2016, by Jayne Miller