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Sterling Employment Law

Detroit's Metroparks facing claims of age and racial discrimination

A majority of Detroit residents would agree that diversity in the workplace brings many benefits. However, sometimes a push for diversity among employees can result in unfair workplace discrimination.

Metro Detroit's Metroparks police department currently stands accused of at least four instances of employment discrimination, such as favoring minority employees over older, white men in granting promotions. If these allegations prove true, this is an example of race discrimination, age discrimination and potentially gender discrimination in the workplace, none of which are appropriate.

One suit against the Metroparks system was filed by Harley Rider, a commander with the department who is white and 63 years old. He claims that he was unfairly passed over for the police chief position in favor of a minority candidate, and that he suffered retaliation after he complained.

Rider says this discrimination was all a deliberate effort on the part of the Metroparks deputy director to diversify the department, and older white males have suffered for it. He claims that he was more qualified for the position of police chief than the man appointed in 2008, who is 15 years younger than Rider.

Rider also claims he often heard comments about how the department was doing everything possible to bring in more minority employees. Representatives for the park department have disputed the claim that it favors diversity over ability, though they do say that diversity is a good goal for any workplace to have.

While all the facts of this case will certainly come out in the trial set to start in July, it's important for all Detroit workers to take notice now. Discrimination of any kind in the workplace should not be tolerated, whether it is discrimination based on age, sex, religion, pregnancy or sexual orientation.

In some cases, an employee's age or other personal factors might be relevant to determining whether the employee is qualified to do the job well. However, promoting or hiring one employee over another based on age or national origin, rather than ability, is illegal. In these cases, an experienced employment law attorney can make sure an employee's rights are protected.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Metroparks police department accused of unfair hiring, promotion," Eric D. Lawrence, May 14, 2012

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