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High-profile MSP whistleblower claim, lawsuit settles

| Jun 2, 2020 | Whistleblowers |

Some work-linked discrimination claims are grounded in accusations of sexism. Others allege discriminatory treatment based on race. Many disaffected employees point to illegal behaviors spawned by a hostile work environment.

One just-settled Michigan lawsuit spotlights all three.

That legal filing was commenced in 2018 by Twana Powell, a former Michigan State Police official who is now retired. Powell’s claim contained a number of explosive accusations leveled against her ex-employer. The heart of her complaint stressed that the MSP unlawfully undermined her efforts while she served as its head of internal affairs.

Powell brought her complaints to light via the filing of whistleblower litigation spotlighting widespread departmental wrongdoing. Her filing underscored what she termed “a pattern of discrimination against both citizens and agency employees.”

Powell stated that departmental blowback on her efforts to launch investigatory probes into alleged police wrongdoing was strong and persistent. She referenced a problematic workplace culture that commonly resulted in would-be examinations into discriminatory conduct being downplayed or shelved.

Powell’s notable police background ensured the telling of her story. Her MSP career spanned a quarter of a century, and she was the first woman and African American to ever chair the internal affairs department. During her tenure, she headed probes into misconduct involving parties ranging from prominent police officials and mayors  to judges and other high-profile figures.

Powell’s whistleblower case settled last month. The judgment in her favor yielded a $2 million settlement. A post-judgment comment from a departmental spokesperson stressed the MSP’s continued commitment “to maintaining a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment.”

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