Court allows key discrimination claims to stand against City of Chester's police

By Carrie Salls | Nov 5, 2018


Chester, Pa.  

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will allow some of the charges raised in a discrimination lawsuit filed against the City of Chester and several members of its police department to proceed, according to an Oct. 22 opinion.

Alleging multiple instances of racial discrimination, harassment and suspensions from his time as a caucasian police officer in a largely African-American Chester Police Department, Joseph Juisti filed a lawsuit against the City of Chester, Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, Police Commissioner Otis Blair, Chief James Nolan IV, Major Steven Gretsky, Captain Marilyn Lee and Captain William Shaw for racial discrimination and retaliation, violating his Constitutional rights, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy.

The lawsuit also alleges that the Fraternal Order of Police William Penn Lodge 19 breached its duty of fair representation and that FOP President Lt. Randy Bothwell violated Juisti’s constitutional rights and was guilty of intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy and breach of the duty of fair representation.

The court said Juisti’s complaint claims that “Lee consistently denied him overtime in favor of other officers who were African-American.”

“During his employment with the city, Juisti reported Lee for misconduct on two occasions when she purportedly warned suspects in order to allow them to evade arrest, but Lee was never disciplined,” the ruling said.

The suit also alleges that Lee, Shaw and other co-workers made fun of him for wearing sunglasses inside following a stroke that affected his vision and made jokes about Juisti’s height and about the fact that he has a mentally handicapped sibling. Although he reported these actions to department and union officials, Juisti claims the offending co-workers were never disciplined.

U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III dismissed some of Juisti’s allegations, while allowing others to proceed.

“We will permit Juisti to proceed with his claim for reverse racial discrimination under Title VII against the City of Chester in Count I, his claim for disability discrimination under the ADA against the city in Count II, and his claim for retaliation under Title VII against the city in Count III of the complaint,” Bartle said in the opinion. “We will also permit Juisti to proceed with his state law claim for breach of the duty of fair representation as to the FOP.”

All of the other claims were dismissed.

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