In a striking example of a major internal dispute within an organization, police lieutenant Rachel Andrew filed a lawsuit against chief Mike Reese and captain of the North Precinct Chris Davis in Portland, Oregon. According to a recent article in the Portland Mercury, the federal civil rights lawsuit claims the two plaintiffs deliberately punished Andrew in retaliation for a misconduct investigation she led against Captain Chris Davis back in 2006 and 2007. The punishments she faced from the chief and captain included a denied promotion and excessive discipline. As a result, she is seeking $300,000 in damages for emotional distress and lost pay.
A History of Headaches
This isn’t the first lawsuit of its kind for the bureau in the past few years. From a text messaging scandal to another complaint of retaliation from Reese against an officer, the organization has been wracked with controversy. In fact, Rachel Andrew’s business litigation attorney in Portland, Sean Riddell, is also representing other officers with their own complaints. The question is, what’s the cause of this internal strife?
A Harassment Claim Too Far
One of the issues in this case was an internal affairs investigation into Rachel Andrew in 2010. According to the BOLI complaint produced by Andrew’s Portland business lawyer, Captain Chris Davis had moved to that department and conducted an investigation into her based on a harassment claim and an untruthfulness claim.
Originally, Andrew had requested an investigation into a subordinate, Sergeant Doug Justus, who yelled at her during an argument. Instead of investigating Justus, Davis made an investigation into Andrew. He also sent a memo directly to the discipline czar asking him to sustain an untruthfulness charge that she had already been cleared of by the retired detectives division commander. Along with other developments, this serious dispute led to a major civil rights lawsuit.
The Takeaway from this Lawsuit Situation
While the dispute in question might be within a police organization, any business owner or manager can take away some important points from this story, including the importance of retaining knowledgeable legal counsel. Business disputes are an unfortunate possibility in any organization, including both internal and external ones. If you have established a relationship with a competent lawyer specializing in retaliation defense, you’ll be equipped to fight damaging charges, if not put the dispute to rest altogether.
Follow cases like this to see what happens in organizational disputes, whether the dispute is over civil rights, intellectual property, slander, or a number of other possibilities. After you see what goes on in these cases, you can apply what you’ve learned to minimize disputes within your business and keep your organization well protected from liability.