Former cop sues BPD for alleged discrimination

David Yates Oct. 8, 2009, 10:00am

After nearly being terminated and rejected for promotion 35 times, an African-American patrol officer claims his troubles with the Beaumont Police Department were racially motivated.

Former BPD Officer Donald Jackson filed suit against the city of Beaumont, BPD, Chief Frank Coffin and several of his fellow officers, alleging they all discriminated against him and unjustly kept him working as a patrol officer for the last dozen plus years.

The federal suit was filed Oct. 2 in the Beaumont Division of the U.S. Eastern District of Texas.

From 1994 until 2004, Jackson worked as a patrol and traffic officer. He resigned in May 2007, citing a hostile work environment.

In his suit, Jackson says his problems began in April 2004 when he was disciplined for "false allegations" made by defendant Sgt. Jason Plunkett.

In response to his pending termination, Jackson claimed he was a victim of racial harassment and forced the city and Beaumont Police Officers' Association to participate in arbitration, which cleared him of any wrong doing and reinstated him to his former position.

"Following Mr. Jackson's reinstatement, he continued to endure harassment, disparate treatment, a hostile work environment, discrimination, and retaliation," the suit states.

"For example, following Hurricane Rita, Sergeant Marc Levy (also a defendant) prepared and distributed lists that assigned officers to various special duties. On at least two occasions, Sergeant Marc Levy spelled Mr. Jackson's name as 'D. JacKKKson.'"

Jackson goes on to assert that from June 2004 until May 11, 2007, he unsuccessfully applied for 35 positions with the BPD. The city and BPD declined to hire him, and, instead, allegedly chose to hire white candidates with less experience.

" . . . Chief Coffin knew that Mr. Jackson applied for these positions, yet he continuously-over 30 times-overlooked Mr. Jackson in favor of other less qualified candidates and candidates of a different race," the suit states.

"Because of the totality of the above actions and its effects on Mr. Jackson, he was forced to resign from his position on May 11, 2007. Mr. Jackson's working conditions were so intolerable that a reasonable employee would feel compelled to resign."

Jackson is suing for all lost wages, plus exemplary and punitive damages.

He is represented by attorney Shane A. McClelland of the Simon Herbert & McClelland law firm.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone.

Case No. 1:09-cv-00886-MAC

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