Black Columbus police lieutenant awarded $2 in racial discrimination lawsuit

Mildred Europa Taylor June 16, 2022
Melissa McFadden. Image via WETM/Count On News 2

A federal jury on Monday awarded a Black Columbus, Ohio police officer only $2 in a 2018 civil rights lawsuit she filed against the city of Columbus. Melissa McFadden sued the police department alleging it discriminated against her and attempted to fire her.

The jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio found that the City of Columbus both racially discriminated against and retaliated against McFadden, Count On News 2 reported.

“The City Attorney’s office takes seriously any allegations of retaliation and discrimination by city employers,” the Columbus City Attorney’s Office said. “We thank the judge and jury for taking the time necessary to understand, deliberate and decide this case. We respect their decision.”

In the original complaint, McFadden had asked for at least $25,000 in addition to lost wages and legal fees. The jury awarded her $1 in damages on two separate counts, adding up to $2.

But it was not really about the money, McFadden’s lawyer John Marshall explained to The Columbus Dispatch. “It was more about the principle than money. She feels like really she won,” Marshall said.

McFadden filed the lawsuit after she was assigned to the property room during an Equal Employment Opportunity investigation following accusations of creating a hostile work environment and being racially biased. Her reassignment to the property room came in the midst of internal investigations she said were retaliation for helping a Black officer file a complaint against a sergeant.

Working in the property room came with physical labor that caused McFadden to suffer an injury, according to her lawsuit. 

“I was tasked with taking the covers off old, expired bulletproof vests,” McFadden previously said to WCMH. “I  would take off the covers, tape the panels together, and stack them on pallets. And I had to stack them every day for eight hours a day.”

In 2020, McFadden self-published the book “Walking the Thin Black Line” alleging racism within the department. At the moment, she is still working for the police department in the officer wellness bureau and will be promoted to commander soon, her attorney said.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 16, 2022


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