Group of Black female DC officers files multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit against police force

A group of current and former female Black D.C. police officers say they suffered years of racial and sexual discrimination while working on the force.

They filed a class-action lawsuit against the department Wednesday, laying out a culture of fear.

“We reported these things to management and to EEO [the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] and we were ignored,” said retired officer Tabatha Knight. “The worst of it is we were labeled as trouble makers, angry Black women.”

The lawsuit seeks $100 million in compensation and an overhaul of the department’s EEO.

In a written statement to WTOP, D.C. police said it can’t discuss the lawsuit.

“The Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization,” wrote Alaina Gertz, the department’s public affairs specialist. “We take these allegations seriously and we will be reviewing them thoroughly and responding accordingly.”

At a news conference Wednesday, the women detailed stories of harassment and a culture of intimidation collected in their 200-page lawsuit, filed by civil rights attorneys Donald Temple and Pam Keith.

The group recounted its stories detailed in the lawsuit. The women recalled years of racial and sexual discrimination.

“No one should have to accept a male manager walking by and grabbing her buttocks and as he walks by just smiled,” said Knight. “There has been no accountability with us and we were ignored.”

The women also say the department grapples with a culture of fear and a hostile workplace.

“This whole case made me realize that I have some unhealed trauma of the things that’s happened to me over the course of my career,” said Assistant Police Chief Chanel Dickerson, who is still on the force.

The lawsuit originally started as a routine EEO complaint brought by two officers. It morphed to include the 10 plaintiffs as more officers came forward. Attorneys said they believe more female officers could come forward.

The women’s attorneys are calling on the mayor, the city council and the attorney general to take a closer look into the department, Keith said.

“Sometimes you just get overwhelming proof that something in your institution is sideways,” Keith said. “This case brings a fantastic opportunity for people we hope to be transformative leaders.”

Gigi Barnett

Gigi Barnett is an anchor at WTOP. She has worked in the media for more than 20 years. Before joining WTOP, she was an anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, and a staff reporter at The Miami Herald. She’s a Navy wife and mom of three.

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