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."

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Columbus.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Columbus stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Columbus.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more