CHICAGO (CBS) – A group of African-American Metra police officers are suing the transit agency.
They said they were singled out for discipline, where white officers got off with an insignificant punishment.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker has more on their allegations in an original report.
“I was fired for insubordination in early May 2015.”
All because David Lee, a former Metra Police officer decided to give a homeless woman a pass and not arrest her for trespassing.
“They said you should have locked her up,” Lee said.
They, according to Lee, are his former Metra bosses who concluded he violated police. He said he did not.
“I explained she had a circuit card,” Lee said. “Which means she is not a trespasser and she was not disrupting service.”
“It was excessively punitive,” said Jill Willis, Lee’s attorney, on behalf of the men along with eight other African American Metra police officers, she has filed this federal lawsuit, accusing Metra of racial discrimination.
“It appears to be a pattern of trying to reduce African American employment base in order to bring in younger white and Hispanic officers,” Willis said.
A patter, Willis said, began a couple of years ago and according to suit, blacks are denied promotions, unjustly terminated and unfairly disciplined while, “white officers charged with serious disciplinary issues ae given the option to resign.”
“I was fired for taking a class to be promoted.”
Larry Geanes worked at the agency 19 years and took a class to become a detective. He said he was fired because he did not get permission for taking the class, but he claims that rule was implemented after his termination.
“I’m very hurt. I’m angry,” Geanes said. “We are just treated unfairly. Discipline is metered out unfairly.”
CBS 2 reached out to Metra. Their response: “We vehemently deny these allegations of racism and discrimination. This lawsuit from current and former police officers, most of whom were justifiably disciplined for dishonesty or negligence in the performance of their duties, has absolutely no merit. We will relentlessly contest these allegations in a court of law and are confident we will prevail.”
Attorneys for the police officers say they have yet to hear from Metra.