Mayor’s Lighter Skinned Security Have Bias Case

     CHICAGO (CN) – Saying “the color of your skin is your sin,” before removing white and Hispanic police officers from Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s security team may leave Chicago liable, a federal judge ruled.
     The 11 plaintiffs are former members of Unit 542, a specially selected group of officers that serves as security specialists to the mayor of Chicago and other dignitaries. This position also came with a higher salary and increased benefits.
     When Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor in 2011, however, several police officers who were not security specialists were assigned to protect the mayor-elect.
     These officers were not officially promoted, but were allowed to “act up” into the position, allegedly because of their involvement in Emanuel’s political campaign.
     Officer John Pigott, one of the non-black plaintiffs, allegedly asked Unit Commander Brian Thompson, as Emanuel’s inauguration grew near, what factors he would use to determine which officers stayed on as security specialists.
     Thompson, a black man, allegedly told Pigott that “the color of your skin is your sin.”
     Eight plaintiffs, all of white or Hispanic descent, were demoted from their security specialist positions without explanation in May 2011.
     Three other plaintiff officers were reassigned to former Mayor Daley’s security team, until October 2011, when they too were demoted and replaced with political appointees, according to the complaint.
     They claim that no black officers were demoted, and that they were replaced by officers with political ties to Emanuel.
     U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber refused to dismiss the officers’ case on Wednesday, finding that plaintiff’s “acting up” allegations are not separate from their demotion allegations.
     While the city’s hiring plan forbids taking account of political factors during the hiring process, it does not prohibit political motivations for termination or demotion, according to the ruling.
     “Thus, the alleged improper ‘acting up’ of some officers and the demotion of the plaintiffs should not be viewed as separate occurrences,” Leinenweber wrote. “As such, plaintiffs would be, in fact, harmed by the other officers ‘acting up.'”
     The plaintiffs can also pursue reverse-discrimination claims that the city “demoted them and no African-American Security Specialists with less seniority or poorer performance records,” the ruling states.
     Leinenweber granted the plaintiffs’ motion to compel, as well, although he said he was “disappointed in all parties at their handling of this dispute.”
     During discovery, the officers requested “each and every reason the defendant removed each of the plaintiffs from their position of security specialist,” and the city responded that the Chicago policy superintendant Terry Hillard, who is also black, listed for Thompson the qualities that Unit 542 security specialists should possess.
     Leinenweber said the officers can follow up on this response to determine what qualities were relied upon in the decision to demote them.
     Hillard must also tell plaintiffs whom he spoke with in the U.S. Secret Service about the mayor’s security and describe his conversations with individuals regarding plaintiffs’ removal.

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