Municipal officials agreed to pay $160,000 on Tuesday night to settle a racial discrimination case brought against the city by three African-American police officers.
Police officers Karen Rayfield, Tamiko Griffin, and Kelly Cary Pacelli accused the Paterson Police Department of “racial discrimination” in the lawsuit filed in 2017. All three women will equally divide the settlement amount, officials said.
Rayfield and Tamiko alleged the department delayed their promotion to the rank of sergeant to prevent them from becoming eligible for promotion to lieutenant. Both women were certified for sergeant promotion in Sept. 2015, but the promotions did not occur until Oct. 2015.
Lieutenant’s exam is held every three years and requires one-year of service as sergeant to apply. This disqualified them from taking the exam in 2016.
Pacelli had been promoted to sergeant in 2014. A month after the promotion, she was transferred to another division which conflicted with her husband police officer Louis Pacelli’s schedule creating a childcare problem for the couple.
All three women cite racism as the cause.
A judge did not buy their racial discrimination argument and dismissed the case in Jun. 2018. However, their attorney, Mark Frost, amended the complaint to include hostile work environment, allowing the case to survive.
Members of the City Council discussed the case with municipal attorneys in a closed-door meeting prior to taking a vote on the settlement.
“I’m just really disappointed that all of this is going on and the perpetrators are not suffering any consequences whatsoever,” said councilman William McKoy. “I hope that this is their corrective action.”
Council members voted 6-0 to approve the settlement.