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Jury sides with Columbus police lieutenant in racial discrimination lawsuit

Lt. Melissa McFadden was awarded $2 for the lawsuit that was filed nearly four years ago.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A jury ruled in favor of a Columbus Division of Police Lieutenant who sued the department over racial discrimination and retaliation by the department.

According to court records, Lt. Melissa McFadden was awarded $2 for the lawsuit that was filed nearly four years ago.

Marshall, Forman, Schlein LLC, the law firm representing McFadden, said in a news release the lieutenant was involuntarily reassigned to the division’s property room in 2017 as a result of allegations of misconduct against her from three officers.

The firm said McFadden proved that she was treated more harshly than white officers who were also accused of similar conduct.

“In the time surrounding Lt. McFadden’s illegal reassignment, three white police Sergeants, three white Lieutenants, and one white Commander were accused of EEO [equal employment opportunity] violations and none of the white individuals were reassigned at all,” the release read.

In May 2018, then-Police Chief Kim Jacobs recommended McFadden be fired after an Internal Affairs investigation found she created a hostile work environment and violated federal employment laws.

According to the investigation, McFadden gave a black sergeant a more positive evaluation than he deserved because she doesn't believe in "black-on-black crime."

McFadden denied she treated any of her subordinates differently based on their race.

In August 2018, the Columbus Department of Public Safety found police did not meet the burden of proof in its charges against McFadden and did not fire her.

McFadden’s lawsuit was settled after a five-day trial that concluded Monday.

In the release, the firm said the case was not about a monetary reward but the principle that no officer should be treated more harshly because of the color of their skin or their efforts to root out discrimination.

A spokesperson for Columbus police said McFadden is still employed with the division.

Columbus police and the department of public safety declined to comment on Monday's verdict. The mayor’s office deferred to Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein’s office which sent 10TV the following statement:

“The City Attorney’s office 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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