17 Flint city employees file lawsuit claiming racial employment bias

Published: Oct. 21, 2019 at 6:26 PM EDT
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(10/21/2019) - Strong and disturbing allegations against the City of Flint and it's police department are laid out in a new lawsuit.

Seventeen city workers and police officers said a pattern of discrimination and harassment is plaguing the department.

Ten men and 7 women, who are Flint police officers and City of Flint employees, filed a lawsuit against the city, Chief Timothy Johnson and Human Resources Manager Makini Jackson.

Throughout the 24-page document, Attorney Dean Yeotis laid out claims 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.

Instead, the lawsuit claimed, some were demoted and others were passed up. Each time, it said, 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."

The female police officers also claimed sexual harassment at the hands of Deputy Chief Devon Bernritter and Sgt. Tyrone Booth.

The lawsuit stated one woman was asked to perform a sexual act on both of them. And because she refused the alleged advances, the lawsuit said "she began to receive unfair and manufactured disciplines."

One time, the lawsuit claimed, the female officer was written up "for an anonymous complaint for being rude."

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the City of Flint and it's 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."

The city, chief and Jackson have 21 days to respond.

We reached out to the attorney who filed the suit and have not heard back.

This isn't the first discrimination lawsuit the city of Flint has faced.

In 2006, nearly 50 Flint police officers sued the city over the "Citizens Service Bureau." Former Mayor Don Williamson created it to work with neighborhood groups to reduce crime.

It was made up of four black men and one white woman. In the lawsuit, officers claimed members of the bureau were promoted without following procedures.

The CSB was eventually disbanded and arbitrators ruled in the officers' favor in 2011. The city ended up paying out nearly $5 million in damages.