Minority Police Officers Sue Austin, Texas
AUSTIN (CN) - Eighteen minority Austin police officers claim in court that they were forced out of the elite Organized Crime Division because of their ages and races.
The mostly black and Hispanic officers sued the city in Federal Court on Wednesday, claiming they were given 28-day reassignment notices in July 2013 and told to "find another home" outside of the elite unit.
"Plaintiff's replacements consist primarily of white officers under 40 years old," lead plaintiff Aaron V. Bishop et al. say in the complaint. "Defendant's wrongful conduct constitutes disparate treatment and/or disparate impact in violation of Chapter 12 of the Texas Labor Code."
The officers had filed an employment discrimination complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission in November 2013. The TWC found no discrimination took place and dismissed the complaint five months later. However, it notified the officers of their right to sue the city in civil court.
Their attorney, Mark Crampton, told the Austin American-Statesman that age discrimination is "endemic" in the police department.
"This wasn't right, and we don't see any benefit out of it," Crampton told the newspaper. "We don't think the administration at Austin Police Department should treat any cops like this."
The officers are "for the most part ... highly decorated officers with exemplary records" who were moved from investigative positions to night patrol shifts, Crampton said.
Austin officials said Thursday the city has not been served with the lawsuit yet.
"We are certainly familiar with the allegations against APD based upon our participation in and cooperation with the Texas Workforce Commission's investigation that resulted in the dismissal of all complaints," city officials said in a statement. "We stand ready to continue defending the City and APD, and will take the appropriate legal steps once the lawsuit is received."
The officers seek actual damages for emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience and loss of professional reputation.