MALDEF

MALDEF, Latino Officers Charge City of Westminster Police Department with Employment Discrimination

Plaintiffs Seek Fair Treatment and Implementation of Impartial Promotion Policies and Practices

LOS ANGELES, CA - On March 2nd, MALDEF held a press conference announcing a lawsuit filed against the City of Westminster, as well as two former Police Chiefs of the Westminster Police Department, for discrimination against Latino police officers on the basis of their national origin. Plaintiffs have been denied promotions and Special Assignments, which can lead to promotions, in violation of the law.

Plaintiffs charge that the Westminster Police Department has unlawfully discriminated against Latino police officers and has engaged in a pattern and practice of such discrimination in violation Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and both state and federal employment laws, including California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act and 42 U.S.C. Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated "More than one in five Westminster residents is Latino. In order to serve well and ably the full community, the Westminster Police Department must cease its discriminatory practices and provide equal opportunity to all, as the law plainly requires."

The plaintiffs include an active duty Major in the U.S. Marine Corps who has been promoted six times by the Marines; a long-serving police officer recognized with numerous awards including the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Award and the Centurion Award; and an officer who has been granted in excess of 10 commendations by the Westminster Police Department, has been twice awarded the Bronze medal of merit for saving someone’s life, and was recognized as Rookie of the Year in his first year with the Department.

Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel, stated "As an institution of public trust, it is unacceptable for a police department to deny Latino officers the promotions they deserve. Westminster must eliminate its discriminatory practices."

With this lawsuit, MALDEF will seek to compel the Police Department, a public institution that must protect and serve well the entire diverse community, to set the right example by implementing fair promotion policies and practices. This lawsuit addresses the right to fair treatment of Latino police officers who have been denied promotions and access to opportunities for promotion in violation of the law.

A copy of the complaint can be found here:
http://maldef.org/assets/pdf/westminster_complaint.pdf

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund