BALTIMORE (CN) — A decorated Baltimore cop claims in a federal complaint that his workplace became a nightmare when his father’s secret affair with a man became a police matter.
In his Aug. 16 filing, lifelong Baltimore native Steven Angelini says his personal and work lives collided in January 2012 when his father had an ex-boyfriend arrested for stalking.
“As a result of this incident, it became apparent, to the plaintiff, that his father, a married, Italian-American male who has 4 adult male children, was gay,” the complaint states.
Against the family’s efforts to keep the matter private, Angelini says the Southeast District where he worked had other plans.
“Angelini became increasingly sensitive to the gossip about his father and to inappropriate sexual remarks made by other members of the BPD,” the complaint states.
Things came to a head in October that year, Angelini says, when he discovered graffiti in the men’s locker room insinuating that he and his partner were gay.
Angelini says he filed a formal complaint immediately and spent the better part of the next year seeking a department transfer.
The period was one marked by ongoing harassment and retaliation, according to the complaint.
Angelini says it began the day of his meeting with the internal office at BPD that handles Equal Employment Opportunity Commission matters.
A female sergeant allegedly needled Angelini about the shirt he was wearing for this meeting. “You just want to show off your pecs down there,” she said, according to the complaint.
Angelini says he felt her comment “was inappropriate and was pointed out in light of the familial, sexual orientation information that had been broadcast to the district.”
Making things worse, according to the complaint, “the sergeant then later said, ‘the major doesn’t want you to go down there and make this formal complaint, why can’t you let this go, why does it affect you?”
Angelini says the sergeant later admitted to a fellow officer “how she conspired to retaliate against him [Angelini] for the EEOC complaint and get plaintiff fired.”
This comment allegedly occurred in April 2013, and Angelini says she had been gossiping to fellow officers weeks earlier that his killing of an armed suspect had not been justifiable.
Angelini says the state’s attorney’s office determined otherwise, and that he was never cited for the March 28, 2013, shooting.
But he was never commended either — something the complaint says is standard for officers who recover guns in Baltimore, as Angelini did here.
The complaint recounts several other allegations of harassment, including a surprise psychological evaluation and drug and alcohol screening that he says “caused severe embarrassment.”
Angelini says the workplace even led to his hospitalization for exhaustion on June 29, 2013.
After months of rejected transfer requests, the last of which was returned to him in shreds, Angelini says he was informed that the brass would never approve his requests so long as he kept marking “hostile work environment” as the cause.
Sure enough, according to the complaint, Angelini wrote “I need a change” on a July request, and was promptly transferred to the Northern District.
Angelini says his work in the Northern District has been marked by numerous community citations.
He wants punitive damages for First Amendment retaliation and sexual harassment. Angelini is represented by Kurt Nachtman of Eldridge & Nachtman.
The attorney did not respond to a request for comment. Baltimore City Police do not comment on pending litigation.