A group of 10 Black female police officers are suing the Metropolitan Police Department for $100 million over alleged racial and sexual discrimination within the department.
The current and former MPD officers filed the lawsuit Wednesday, saying they experienced bullying, harassment and intimidation based on their race and gender while working for the department. Donald Temple, one of the attorneys representing the women, said at a press conference Wednesday that the lawsuit presents problems with the Department’s Equal Employment Opportunity office, which he said failed to support the women during ongoing harassment.
“The District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department institutionally and systematically discriminates against African American women employees who suffer almost on a daily basis a double standard,” Temple said at the conference. “This is a landmark case because these individual women who are seated next to and behind me have the courage and the audacity to no longer stutter, endure, run from a system that alters and painstakingly affects every day of their lives.”
Temple did not immediately return a request for comment.
Tabatha Knight, one of the plaintiffs, said women regularly face sexual harassment from male officers, whom she alleged groped female officers and forcibly shoved their tongues in their mouths. She said despite complaints about these behaviors to MPD officials and EEO offices within the department, MPD never addressed the issues.
“We reported these things to management, to our EEO, and we were ignored,” she said at the conference. “But the worst of it, we were labeled as troublemakers, angry Black women, and I am here to say we are not angry Black women, we are tired women.”
Sinobia Brinkley, a former officer who is suing MPD, said the hostile work environment that included sexual harassment and intimidation caused her to lose weight and hair because of the stress of working at the department.
“It’s several times that all of us have endured sexual harassment or intimidation and bullying, and we’re tired of it,” Brinkley said. “We’re tired of being bullied by a system that doesn’t want to change, a culture that doesn’t want to change.”
MPD spokesperson Alaina Gertz declined to comment on the allegations but said MPD will investigate the claims.
“While we cannot discuss the specific allegations due to pending litigation, the Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization,” Gertz said in an email. “We take these allegations seriously, and we will be reviewing them thoroughly and responding accordingly.”