Sep 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

10 Black female officers sue D.C. police over alleged discrimination

U.S. Capitol Police officers walk past the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. House Democrats set up a Tuesday

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ten Black female police officers filed a class-action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Wednesday, alleging they were discriminated against, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: The women said they were subject to a culture of race and sex discrimination, a hostile workplace and retaliation when they complained. They also said that the problems have persisted for more than two decades under at least three police chiefs, per the Washington Post.

The big picture: Three of the women said they were forced out of the police department while five others are still on the force, according to NBC. One officer retired this week and another resigned last December.

  • The women said the bullying and harassment was so extreme that it adversely affected their mental and physical health, per CNN.
  • The lawsuit also alleges that the division in charge of addressing such behaviors is run by a man who has repeatedly expressed hostility toward female officers, discredits women who come forward and refused to transfer Black female officers.
  • The women are seeking $100 million in compensatory damages and asking the court to appoint someone to overhaul the MPD to ensure it undergoes structural changes.

Between the lines: Officer Tabatha Knight said she legally recorded some of her meetings with supervisors to protect herself from false accusations, but she was investigated and threatened with a four-week suspension, per CNN.

  • In another instance, one officer said she reported that a male employee from the D.C. government’s Department of General Services knowingly walked in on her while she showered in a female locker room. The lawsuit stated she was put under investigation for instigating the complaint, per The Post.

What they're saying: "While we cannot discuss the specific allegations due to pending litigation, the Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization," Alaina Gertz, a police spokesperson, said in a statement, per NBC News.

  • "We were labeled as troublemakers, angry Black women, and I'm here to say that we are not angry Black women," Knight said Wednesday at a press conference. "We are tired women and no one should have to endure what we did."
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