Officer claims bias by city, police department
The City of Ithaca, Police Chief Ed Vallely, Deputy Chief John Barber, Deputy Chief Pete Tyler and the Tompkins County District Attorney's office discriminated against Ithaca Police Officer Chris Miller and other white male officers, Miller is alleging in a $17 million lawsuit filed in federal court May 20.
The lawsuit alleges they increased their discrimination against Miller after he filed human-rights complaints and retaliated with baseless accusations, threats of indictment and termination, harassment, greater scrutiny, and unjustified and unlawful discipline, including a bogus investigation of him in 2009.
The suit also names the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association and PBA President Jeff Huddle as defendants, claiming they refused to address Miller's complaints and took part in the discrimination and retaliation.
Ithaca City Attorney Dan Hoffman said the defendants do not agree with the allegations and will respond accordingly. They heard the same complaints from Miller before, he added.
Vallely hung up when asked about the suit, while Miller, Huddle and District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson said they couldn't comment on it. Barber and Tyler couldn't be reached for comment.
The investigation, recent threats and Miller's attempts to get promoted are the only specific allegations mentioned in the lawsuit, but are part of the discrimination and retaliation it claims the defendants practiced against all white male officers, the suit claims. Miller joined the Ithaca Police Department in 2000; his job performance has always been acceptable and free of misconduct; and he scored high on a civil service exam. As a white male officer, however, he was subjected to more stringent performance evaluations, and intense scrutiny both on and off the job, the suit alleges.
"The defendants subject plaintiff and male Caucasian employees to higher standards of performance and adherence to rules and regulations while excusing African-American and minorities from the same standards of behavior," the suit said. "Throughout his career, plaintiff has been relentlessly counseled and reprimanded for conduct that is unremarkable or has gone unnoticed and unpunished by superiors when committed by African-American and minority officers." White male officers are passed over for assignments and promotions in favor of minorities and "treated as second-class citizens," the suit claims.
In addition to the damages and other things, Miller is asking that the defendants be ordered to publicly apologize to him, restore him to his position with its benefits, stop further discriminatory and retaliatory treatment in the Ithaca Police Department, conduct training about it, and "provide equal opportunities, terms, benefits and pay to all employees in the Ithaca Police Department."Miller files $17 million federal lawsuit
By Raymond Drumsta •firstname.lastname@example.org • June 1, 2010, 10:05 pm