Judge dismisses three black Paterson police sergeants’ racial discrimination lawsuit | Paterson Times Paterson Times

Judge dismisses three black Paterson police sergeants’ racial discrimination lawsuit

By Jayed Rahman
Published: June 15, 2018


A racial discrimination lawsuit filed by three African-American police sergeants was dismissed this week, according to federal court records. Judge Esther Salas dismissed the lawsuit filed in federal court by Karen Rayfield, Tamiko Griffin, and Kelly Pacelli on Monday.

The suit alleged former police chief William Fraher racially discriminated against Rayfield and Griffin by delaying their promotion. “Here, although Plaintiffs have alleged that Defendants delayed their promotion, they nonetheless fail to allege facts that rise above speculation for this Court to infer that their promotions were delayed because of their race,” wrote Salas in her opinion.

Both were later promoted, according to the lawsuit. Rayfield and Griffin have been employed by the city since 1996 and 2002. Pacelli was hired in 1997, according to the lawsuit.

Rayfield claimed in an amended complaint, she faced retaliation from police for filing the lawsuit. For example, in the days after filing the lawsuit, she received her paycheck in an envelope that misspelled her name as “Ratfield.” In another occasion, no white police officer provided her backup.

Pacelli alleged she has faced a constant hostile work environment and racial discrimination following her promotion to sergeant in 2014. She alleges she was assigned to unfavorable shifts, denied transfer requests, and police brass failed to discipline a fellow officer who made a racially charged comments about African-Americans.

Police placed Pacelli and her husband in the same shift. This created a child care problem for the couple. She had to submit four requests before she would be transferred. At the same time, white officers were allowed to transfer to different shifts, she alleged in the lawsuit.

“While Plaintiffs do allege Defendants denied several of Plaintiff Pacelli’s requests to be transferred, Plaintiffs assert no factual allegations—i.e., non-conclusory assertions—that Defendants denied Plaintiff’s request because of her race,” wrote the judge. “Plaintiffs nowhere allege that other similarly situated PPD officers were granted transfer requests to a shift that, if granted to Pacelli, would have alleviated her child care needs.”

Only a transfer to the day shift would have resolved her child care issue. The judge wrote, she made “no allegations that the PPD had the availability to accommodate Pacelli’s request to be transferred to the day shift or that other non-minority officers holding the rank of sergeant had been transferred to the day shift.”

The three sergeants’ lawsuit followed that of lieutenant Washington Griffin. He alleged police retaliated against him after he called for an an investigation into alleged racist comments made by another officer.

The city settled Griffin’s lawsuit by paying $300,000 in Feb. 2018. Griffin agreed to retire from the police force.

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