Thursday, May 2, 2013

Interracial Couple Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Franklin Police settle with mixed-race couple

City will pay officers $140,000 in discrimination case

By Kevin Walters/ The Tennessean

A pair of married Franklin, Tennessee police officers will be paid $140,000 and leave the city’s police force as part of a settlement ending a discrimination lawsuit the couple brought against the city back in 2008.

Chris and Arlena Clausi filed a discrimination lawsuit in November 2008 against the city, alleging they suffered harassment, discrimination and retaliation from top police officials and their fellow uniformed officers while on the force. Chris Clausi, who is white, and Arlena Clausi, who is black, met while serving on the police force and married in 1995.

The settlement is the second six-figure pay out to Franklin police officers since 2011 when Franklin aldermen agreed to pay a $288,000 payment as part of a jury award and rehire a former officer who sued the city to get his job back.

Rather than take the Clausis’ case to court, Franklin aldermen chose to settle — though Franklin officials denied the couple’s claims of discrimination.

“This was the best decision for all involved,” said City Administrator Eric Stuckey in a statement. “Now the city and the Clausis can move forward.”

The couple had sought $350,000 in compensation, plus an additional amount for attorney’s fees. Instead, they’ll be paid $140,000 which includes damages and attorney fees and will no longer be police officers. The city and its insurer will cover the payment.

As a part of the settlement, Arlena Clausi must retire within 30 days and cannot reapply for any employment with the city of Franklin, the city said.
Chris Clausi will be transferred to the city’s Human Resources Department where he will work as an employee relations manager. He cannot reapply for a job within the Franklin Police Department, the city said.

Though Franklin aldermen voted to the deal in February, details of the settlement were made public late Friday as part of a press release.
“The City of Franklin takes any claim of discrimination very seriously and does not admit any liability to the plaintiffs in this case,” Stuckey said in the statement. “The decision to settle this case by Board of Mayor and Aldermen was purely a business decision.”

Arlena Clausi was hired as a dispatcher in 1987 and was promoted to detective in 2000. Chris Clausi was hired as a police officer in 1990 and promoted to lieutenant in 2007.
Source: Kevin Walters | The Tennessean

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