An Oregon county is paying up after a former employee says he was fired for reporting racist language spewed by a Portland police officer while on the job.
This week, Multnomah County paid $200,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Emmanuel Price, who blew the whistle on the officer’s alleged racist behavior. The payout is just 40 percent of the $470,000 Price sought in his March 2017 suit, according to OregonLive.
Price, who is Afro-Latino, said he was hired to promote multiculturalism and inclusion as an employee of the county’s Diversity and Equity. He was instead “… fired for what I got hired for,” he said.
According to the lawsuit, things began to unravel after Price witnessed Sgt. Tim Sessions use a racial slur last year during a presentation to the county’s Youth Commission about cyberbullying. Using “real-life examples,” Sessions recalled the story of a Latino boy who mispronounced the n-word during a dispute with an African-American boy. The sergeant reportedly made light of the argument and chucked as he said the slur aloud, the lawsuit alleged.
“He made fun of the Mexican guy not being able to pronounce it,” Price told OregonLive at the time. “… It was just really ugly. It was terrible.”
Price quickly ended the presentation and took his complaints to his boss, human resources and the police sergeant, calling Sessions’ behavior “offensive and unreasonable.” Sessions later apologized for the incident, but claimed there may be times where he might actually need to use the offensive word, according to the lawsuit.
Price figured the matter was settled. He was fired nine days later, however. The former employee argued it was in retaliation for calling out the sergeant’s racist behavior.
The county disputes this, saying Price was fired due to poor work attendance and failure to communicate with higher-ups.