A class-action lawsuit filed by current and former troopers alleges racial discrimination within Maryland State Police.
First reported by the Baltimore Sun, three troopers were named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit on behalf of employees of color that comprise diverse backgrounds, including Black, Hispanic, Asian American, South Asian and Middle Eastern officers. They said in court documents that they have experienced racial discrimination while working at MSP.
The department is already under a civil rights investigation by federal officials over allegations of racially discriminatory hiring and employment practices.
Troopers in the class action lawsuit said that Maryland State Police treat officers of color differently when it comes to discipline and promotions, which have resulted in terminations, loss of promotions, demotions and loss of pay and benefits, among others.
Court documents said that the department has a pattern of disciplining officers for “minor, negligible, and/or non-existent violations of MSP policies,” and that it takes a long time to investigate these violations. However, officers who are white are not subjected to the same discipline and process.
As for promotions, the lawsuit said that there is a disparity in promotions within MSP for officers of color that cannot be explained by a great difference in education, performance, experience or any other legitimate reason.
The troopers said that MSP has a pattern of not placing officers of color in specialized units, where they may have more training and opportunities that would help them perform better on the promotion procedures.
They also allege that the department has maintained and allowed a hostile work environment, and that it has a habit of retaliating against the officers for “complaining about, or proposing discipline for, Caucasian officers who commit misconduct.”
The plaintiffs are asking for a change in disciplinary and promotion policies, compensation, a declaration that Maryland State Police violated U.S. laws, reinstatement of troopers who they said were wrongfully terminated, and the immediate promotions of those who were denied because of the current practice.
In a statement, Maryland State Police told WTOP that it remains committed to providing the “highest quality of law enforcement services to the people of Maryland,” while ensuring the fair and equitable treatment of all employees.
“Significant actions have been taken and are continuing to address even the perception of racism or unfair treatment of any kind,” the department said.
Maryland State Police said the complaint is under review and they are not able to share information regarding the allegations in the complaint at this time.