Jun 15, 2022 - News

Police discriminated against Columbus lieutenant, jury finds

The Columbus Division of Police headquarters.
The Columbus Division of Police headquarters. Photo: Paul Vernon/AFP via Getty Images

A federal jury sided with a Black police lieutenant's claim that she was racially discriminated and retaliated against by the Columbus Division of Police.

Yes, but: Lt. Melissa McFadden was awarded just $2 in compensatory damages.

Catch up quick: McFadden, a 26-year veteran who remains employed by the department, filed the lawsuit in 2018.

  • She claimed the department retaliated against her for helping a fellow Black female officer file a discrimination complaint.
  • That retaliation involved opening an investigation into her workplace conduct and demoting her to a "humiliating post in the property room," her lawsuit alleged.
  • McFadden sought more than $25,000 in damages for emotional distress and "a significant reduction in the enjoyment in her life."

Meanwhile, as the case progressed, McFadden published a memoir in 2020 called "Walking the Thin Black Line."

  • The book's description says it highlights her years of "coping with the personal trauma of working for a racist police department."

What they're saying: "It was more about the principle than money," McFadden's attorney, John Marshall, told the Columbus Dispatch.

  • "She feels like really she won."

The other side: City Attorney Zach Klein's office said in a provided statement it "takes seriously any allegations of retaliation and discrimination by city employers."

  • "We thank the judge and jury for taking the time necessary to understand, deliberate and decide this case. We respect their decision."
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