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Lawsuits & Litigation

Lawsuit Accuses City of Flint of Sexual Harassment and Racial Discrimination

— October 23, 2019

A discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit was recently filed against the City of Flint and its police department.

The City of Flint is in hot water after 17 police officers and city workers stepped forward with disturbing allegations claiming a “pattern of discrimination and harassment is plaguing the department.” Of the 17 plaintiffs, 10 are men and seven are women, all of whom are Flint police officers and employees of the City of Flint. The suit itself was filed against the city, Chief Timothy Johnson and Human Resources Manager Makini Jackson.

Downtown Flint, MI
Downtown Flint, MI; image courtesy of Flintmichigan via Wikimedia Commons,

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Dean Yeotis. Throughout the 24-page suit, he details out allegations of “reverse discrimination, citing multiple times when one of the 17 was the most qualified for a higher position but was never given the opportunity.” In fact, instead of being promoted, some were “demoted and others were totally passed up.” The suit further states that each time, “the person who received the position was an African American, who in most instances, either didn’t have the qualifications, scored lower them one of the 17 on the promotion exam, or in one case, the person was hired off the street.”

In addition to the discrimination allegations, some of the female police officers also allege they were victims of sexual harassment by Deputy Chief Devon Bernritter and Sgt. Tyrone Booth. For example, one of the female plaintiffs was allegedly “asked to perform a sexual act on both of them.” When she refused, “she began to receive unfair and manufactured disciplines,” according to the suit. On one occasion, she was written up “for an anonymous complaint for being rude.”

When responding to the allegations in the suit, a spokeswoman for the city and the police department said:

The City of Flint does not condone any manner of sexual harassment or racial discrimination. Likewise, the City of Flint will not stand idly by as unverified allegations attempt to damage the personal and professional reputations of the men and women identified in the pleadings.”

At the moment, the defendants have 21 days to respond to the lawsuit. It is important to note, however, that this isn’t the first time Flint has been sued for discrimination. Back in 2006, about 500 city police officers filed a lawsuit against Flint over the ‘Citizens Service Bureau,’ an initiative created by former mayor Don Williamson to “work with neighborhood groups to reduce crime.” At the time it was formed, it was comprised of one white woman and four African-American men. In that particular lawsuit, “officers claimed members of the bureau were promoted without following procedures.” As a result of the suit, the bureau was disbanded and Flint ended up paying close to $5 million in damages.


17 Flint city employees file lawsuit claiming racial employment bias

Lawsuit filed against the City of Flint & the Chief of Police

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