A racial discrimination case has resulted in a $1.2-million settlement between the Justice Department and the Worcester County Sheriff and the State of Maryland. Related retaliation claims against Pocomoke City were also resolved.
A former Pocomoke City officer filed a complaint in 2016 alleging that he was subject to repeated racial epithets and other racially-charged acts of harassment while working with a multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement unit. He said he faced a series of retaliatory actions which culminated in his termination. Former Police Chief Kelvin Sewell and a lieutenant also faced retaliation, and the Chief was also terminated.
Pocomoke City agrees to pay a total of $1.1-million to resolve claims made by the former officers. The Worcester County Sheriff and State of Maryland agree to pay an additional $100,000 to one officer.
“Subjecting a law enforcement officer to egregious racial slurs and epithets, then retaliating against him and others who supported him for reporting the misconduct, strikes at the heart of the race discrimination prohibitions that Congress enacted when it passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Eric S. Dreiband said in a DOJ press release.
While racial discrimination is a serious injury for so many people in this country, it’s the retaliation that hurt me and my colleagues so much,” plaintiff and former officer Franklin Savage said. “But this settlement helps me know that – even at great cost – I did the right thing. Bottom line, challenging race discrimination must be encouraged, not punished.”