Former Captain Bobby M Clay is suing the city of Rocky Mount for Discrimination and Retaliation after being passed up for interviews for the Chief position.
1. That Plaintiff is a citizen and resident of North Carolina.
2. Upon information and belief, Defendant is a municipality organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of North Carolina. Defendant is an employer within the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 1991, as amended, in that it has employed 15 or more employees at all times relevant herein.
3. That, Plaintiff, a Caucasian male, was hired by Defendant on or about 1997 as a detective and received promotions over his tenure with the Defendant. Plaintiff is highly qualified and has served the Defendant in a variety of capacities, with distinction, while so employed. His final position was as a Captain-Division Commander in the Defendant's police department. Moreover, during his employment with Defendant he obtained a Master of Arts in Leadership's degree in 2003 in an effort to expand his skills and professional value to the Defendant.
4. That Plaintiff continued to perform his duties until on or about November 1, 2020 when he was constructively terminated from his position.
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION: RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
5. That Plaintiff's duties had expanded over the years but his job opportunities were limited by the policies of racial discrimination instituted by the Defendant.
6. That Plaintiff applied for the position of Chief of Police on or about January 29, 2021. Despite his qualifications for the position, professional recommendation, and experience in the field, Plaintiff was denied even an interview for the position.
7. That upon information and belief, the city manager, Rochelle Small Toney, the recruiting team, and the decision makers for the Chief of Police position were determined to fill the position with someone of the African American race. Moreover, the African American race of the candidates was more important than their professional qualifications in the selection process.
8. That, upon information and belief, the position was in fact offered to Robert Hassell, African American male, who had less professional credentials and experience than Plaintiff. Further that he accepted the position.
9. That the promotional process within the Defendant organization allowed management personnel to make decisions based upon the improper factor of race rather than professional qualifications.
10. Moreover, upon information and belief, Plaintiff was denied the same professional opportunities for advancement provided to African American workers, subjected to higher standards and requirements with the recruiting team, and otherwise disadvantaged in employment with respect to race and diversity.
11. That at all times relevant herein, Plaintiff's supervisory personnel were agents of the Defendant, duly authorized and acting within the scope of their employment.
12. That as a direct and proximate result of Defendant's conduct, Plaintiff was denied a promotion to the chief of police for the Defendant city in the spring of 2021.
13. Between the relevant periods as alleged above, the Defendant intentionally discriminated against Plaintiff and denied him equal terms and conditions of his employment by utilizing one or more of the following employment practices:
a) By maintaining and employing written and unwritten policies and practices regarding promotions, transfers and other internal hiring practices that allowed managers like Rochelle Small-Toney and human resources personnel to handpick African American candidates over the more qualified Plaintiff and other Caucasian candidates;
b) By selecting African American candidates for interim chiefs of police and chiefs of police positions using an arbitrary and capricious, non-competitive selection process, while requiring Plaintiff and other Caucasian candidates to apply and compete for these positions.
c ) By erecting an artificial II glass ceiling II and artificial II glass walls II that prevented the qualified Plaintiff and other qualified Caucasian candidates from advancing to top-level management within the Police Department.
d) By failing to monitor and oversee employment and human resources practices and by failing to provide adequate training and oversight of Rochelle Small Tony, city manager, and the Human Resources Department during the relevant time periods, to ensure that municipal policies were/are applied consistently and in a nondiscriminatory manner.
14. That as a direct and proximate result of the employment practices as alleged above, Plaintiff and other Caucasian candidates were denied the opportunity to advance to the same level and at the same rate as African American employees employed by the Defendant City.
15. That at all times relevant to this lawsuit, Plaintiff was fully qualified for the positions or promotion that he was denied.
16. That the discrimination and retaliation, as alleged above, represents a pattern and practice of intentional, illegal racial discrimination within the Police Department and other departments within the Defendant's organization, and the said discrimination was carried out by employees of the Defendant City using its customs, policies and practices, written and unwritten. For example, despite being the best qualified candidate for the Chief position in 2018, having the endorsement of the interim chief, and applying for the position, receiving the highest scores with the recruiting company hired by Defendant (Development Associates) the position was not filled and George Robinson, an African American male, was appointed interim chief as the search process continued. Further on in the new search process in February, 2019, once again the candidate selected does not meet the posted minimum requirements but George Robinson is appointed and the search process stopped short of completion.
17. That, upon information and belief, the unwritten policies and practices emanating there from, allowed Rochelle Small Toney to handpick African Americana candidates through word of mouth for available positions and make promotion decisions on the basis of subjective criteria. This uncompetitive selection system prevented Plaintiff and other qualified Caucasian candidates from competing equally for positions or even knowing that such positions were available.
18. That in light of the history of discrimination within the City of Rocky Mount, especially within the Police Department and Human Resources, Defendant's governing officials adopted polices with a deliberate indifference to their known or obvious consequences. For example, a fair reading of many policies reveal that the Defendant promulgated policies without incorporating any standards to guard against racial discrimination. The said policies are completely devoid of any administrative restraints that would prevent their misuse for illegal, discriminatory purposes.
19. That based upon the deliberate indifference of the Defendant's governing body in enacting said policies as alleged above, the Defendant's deliberate indifference caused and became the moving force for the discrimination that Plaintiff received at the hands of Rochelle Small Toney and others, and the Defendant is therefore liable as a municipality for said illegal discrimination caused by its employees.
20. That based upon the aforementioned allegations, Defendant has intentionally discriminated against Plaintiff in the terms and conditions of his employment because of his race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Defendant's unlawful conduct constitutes a continuing pattern of racial discrimination against the Plaintiff.
21. That upon information and belief, Defendant has failed to monitor its promotion and evaluation systems for racially discriminatory practices. Moreover, Defendant has failed to respond to Plaintiff's complaints of unequal treatment, and it failed to provide sufficient oversight or training of Rochelle Small Toney. Further, upon information and belief, the Defendant also has not taken appropriate steps to ensure the effective and consistent implementation of nondiscriminatory employment and human resources practices within the Defendant's departments, including the Police Department and Human Resources.
22. That on or about July 29, 2021, within 180 days of the last discriminatory actions of Defendant, Plaintiff filed a charge in writing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (hereinafter "EEOC") charging Defendant with racial discrimination. More than 180 days have elapsed since Plaintiff filed these charges with the EEOC. On or about January 31, 2022, a right to sue letter on said charge of discrimination was issued by the local office of the EEOC. At this time, Plaintiff has decided to institute a private lawsuit, and is filing same within ninety (90) days of receipt of the EEOC' s right to sue letter.
23. That said failure to promote Plaintiff to chief of police by Defendant based upon his race, by and through its duly authorized agents, is the direct and proximate cause of injury to Plaintiff in an amount in excess of $25,000.00 representing lost wages and benefits, reduced retirement benefits, and loss of professional prestige.
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