Pennsylvania May Have Abused Iranian Trooper

     (CN) – An Iranian police trooper may have a discrimination case after his supervisor allegedly made quips about Islam, such as telling him to whip out a prayer rug, face east and start praying.
     Farzad Sharif, who immigrated to the United States from Iran at the age of 17, said the racially motivated harassment he endured with the Pennsylvania State Police began while he was a cadet in 1993 and never stopped.
     Despite high test scores on promotion exams, the department allegedly repeatedly blocked Sharif from promotion in favor of less qualified, nonminority applicants.
     Sharif said members of his family were in a car accident in 2009, but his attempts to fix mistakes on the police report led a sergeant to accuse him of interfering with the investigation. The Iranian trooper’s subsequent requests for legal representation were then allegedly ignored.
     Capt. Rodney Manning picked on Sharif by calling him his “boy” and having him perform menial tasks such as empty garbage cans, according to the complaint.
     In April 2010, Manning allegedly told Sharif to roll out his prayer rug, face the east, and start praying. Some months later, he made fun of Sharif for having a cold office, noting the trooper was “born in the Middle East, not Alaska,” according to the complaint. Later that day, Manning said, “Don’t make me flog your camel in front of you.”
     Publicly, Manning allegedly called Sharif a moron and questioned why Sharif’s “people” don’t eat pork.
     After Sharif complained about Manning to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Manning was removed from his position in February 2011 but allowed to retire without being disciplined.
     Sharif later testified in Joseph Farthing v. Pennsylvania State Police, et al. about a scandal he allegedly observed after joining the Internal Affairs Division as an investigator in 2001. He said several lieutenants had hired underage prostitutes in Thailand and Vietnam from 2002 to 2008, but retired without being criminally charged or demoted.
     The amended complaint asserts claims for First Amendment retaliation, Title VII discrimination and retaliation, Pennsylvania Human Relations Act violations, breach of duty of fair representation, and civil conspiracy.
     The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) initiated another investigation against Sharif and moved to strike and dismiss his complaint. The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association (PSTA) also moved to dismiss.
     U.S. District Judge John Jones III preserved some claims Thursday, tossing aside the state’s claim that Sharif testified as an official, not as a citizen on a matter of public concern.
     “Plaintiff has averred that he was issued a written reprimand, without notice or explanation, eight days after providing testimony in the Farthing case,” Jones wrote. “The temporal proximity between these two events is certainly not determinative, but is sufficient to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of this necessary element of plaintiff’s claim.”
     Noting press coverage on the CBS and FOX affiliates in Harrisburg, as well as by the Lebanon Daily News, the judge found that “we can reasonably infer that plaintiff has some interest not only in winning his lawsuit and gaining whatever rewards may follow, but also in placing the PSP’s alleged misconduct and internal policies in the public sphere for outside scrutiny.”
     Jones later added that the internal affairs complaint against Sharif “specifically cites his ‘fail[ure] to exercise prudent consideration prior to divulging’ certain information to the public through the filing of the original complaint, so there is clear causation between plaintiff’s speech and the alleged retaliation.”
     The court dismissed Sharif’s claims for breach of duty of fair representation relating to events that predated his complaint by more than two years, however, and agreed to seal his complaint.

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