.

Case 52: White Austin TX Police Officer Sues for Reverse Discrimination

Equal Opportunity NOT Equal Results
Site
Site Index / Menu.
Index
Austin Police Commander Harold Piatt Alleges He Has Been Denied Promotions Because He is White Horror
MENU:  Horror Stories
Stories
Menu

Web Posted July 2, 2007

SUMMARY:   Austin police commander Harold Piatt filed a reverse discrimination lawsuit against the Austin Police Department on June 26, 2007. 
          In March 2006 Piatt was passed over for a promotion to the position of assistant chief by a much less qualified Hispanic man named Charlie Oritz.  Oritz had three years less seniority than Piatt and at the time of the promotion was under sanction by the department for substandard performance.   Less than one year later Mr. Oritz's lack of competence resulted in his being demoted.  He was replaced in the post by another Hispanic. Austin Texas
Austin Police           According to the lawsuit, Mr. Piatt's chief, Stan Knee, "... had previously expressed, in January of 2006, in an official meeting with no less than eighteen high ranking department employees present, that in his selection of assistant chief, that he would 'exercise his prerogative to maintain the racial balance' of the Austin Police Department assistant chiefs." 
Piatt's lawsuit alleges that this policy, in existence since at least the mid-1980’s, is unwritten, unjustified and unlawful.

          The lawsuit also states:   "One beneficiary of this policy of racial set-asides, a Hispanic officer who was promoted to assistant chief, but skipped two grades in order to achieve this promotion, [and] was subsequently sentenced to state prison on a felony conviction."

INDEX:

Summary
News
Lawsuit
Attorneys

RACIAL DEMOGRAPHICS OF AUSTIN:

          According to 1990 and 2000 Census data, and demographic estimates for 2007, Austin has seen a steady decline in its white population while the Hispanic population has continued to explode.  From 1990 to 2007 Hispanics went from 22.8% of Austin's population to 34.0% while the proportion of whites declined from 61.7% to 47.5%.

Percent of Total Population: 1990 2000 2007
White 61.7% 52.9% 47.5%
Black 11.9% 9.8% 9.1%
Hispanic 22.8% 30.5% 34.0%
Asian 3.3% 4.7% 6.5%
Other 0.3% 2.0% 2.9%

          Racial hostilities in the city are particularly intense between the black community and the Hispanic community.  In June 2007, for example, a group of blacks beat an Hispanic man to death near a public housing complex.  The blacks were returning from a city-sponsored "Juneteenth" celebration, an important black holiday commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas.  The Hispanic man whom they kicked and beat to death had been a passenger in a car that had accidentally bumped a small child.   The child was not injured.


[White] Austin police commander sues, claiming racial discrimination Excerpt from the
Austin Statesman story
6-28-07
Subhead:  Suit comes after he was bypassed for promotion.

Original story by Tony Plohetski AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

          "A veteran Austin police commander [Commander Harold Piatt, who has a spotless employment record] has sued City Manager Toby Futrell, former Police Chief Stan Knee and incoming Police Chief Art Acevedo, saying he was denied a promotion to assistant chief because he is white.

          "Cmdr. Harold Piatt claims in the seven-page suit filed late Tuesday [June 26, 2007]  in U.S. District Court that he was the victim of a years-long police department practice of 'racial set-asides for positions for assistant chief.'

INDEX:

Summary
News
Lawsuit
Attorneys

          "Piatt, who now supervises the department's homicide unit, said that he was the most qualified person in the department for the job last year but that the position was given to Cmdr. Charlie Ortiz, who is Hispanic.  Piatt has been with the department since 1979, three years longer than Ortiz.

          "Acting Police Chief Cathy Ellison demoted Ortiz to the rank of commander in January but has not publicly stated the reason for her decision.

          "Ortiz has since filed a complaint with the city's civil service commission, saying that Ellison retaliated against him for defending an officer's use of force and that his job performance had never been questioned.

          "In his [reverse discrimination] suit, Piatt said [former Police Chief Stan] Knee told a group of commanders in a January 2006 meeting that he would 'exercise his prerogative to maintain the racial balance' among assistant police chiefs.

          " 'The Austin Police Department has a longstanding policy of employing racial set-asides for positions of police chief,' the suit said. 'This policy, in existence since at least the mid-1990s, is unwritten, unjustified and unlawful.' "

          "[Piatt's] suit also claims that Austin City Council members weigh in on assistant chief appointments, which is in violation of the city charter.

          "Piatt declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday.  He said Acevedo was named as a 'replacement defendant' for Knee, who is now working as a mentor to the minister of the interior in Afghanistan. -30-

-- Last known link to Austin Statesman
Story 6-28-07


The Lawsuit

          Below are key excerpts from the legal complaint Piatt filed in U.S. District Court.

          "Plaintiff Piatt, an Austin police officer since 1979 and an Austin Police Commander since January of 2000, was denied promotion to Assistant Chief of Police by Austin Police Chief Stanley L. Knee (hereinafter “Knee”) on or about March 19, 2006. ... Knee made his decision not to promote Piatt based on Piatt’s race, in violation of federal statutes, and the federal and Texas Constitutions."

          "[Chief] Knee promoted instead one Charlie Ortiz, a Hispanic officer with less experience at all levels than Officer Piatt.  Mr. Piatt was, at the time, the most qualified officer in the City of Austin Police Department for this promotion. Moreover, at the time Officer Ortiz was promoted, Officer Ortiz was subject to a 'performance improvement plan,' an internal City of Austin Police Department mechanism for improving the substandard performance of its officers.   ... Ortiz was subsequently demoted in January of 2007, and replaced by Leo Enriquez.

INDEX:

Summary
News
Lawsuit
Attorneys

          "Chief Knee had previously expressed, in January of 2006, in an official meeting with no less than eighteen high ranking department employees present, that in his selection of assistant chief, that he would 'exercise his prerogative to maintain the racial balance' of the Austin Police Department assistant chiefs.

          "The Austin Police Department has a longstanding policy of employing racial setasides for positions for assistant chief.   This policy, in existence since at least the mid-1980’s, is unwritten, unjustified and unlawful.  One beneficiary of this policy of racial set-asides, a Hispanic officer who was promoted to assistant chief, but skipped two grades in order to achieve this promotion, was subsequently sentenced to state prison on a felony conviction.

          "This policy of racially set-aside appointments to senior management positions in the Austin Police Department is not only harmful to individual officers, but, because it places persons in senior positions without regard to who is best qualified, this policy has the potential to negatively affect public safety."

Injuries:

          "Plaintiff suffered the following injuries as a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ conduct:

"(a) Plaintiff was denied promotion to Assistant Chief, resulting in lost pay and benefits.

"(b) Plaintiff suffered damage to his pension or retirement benefits

"(c) Plaintiff was compelled to hire legal representation and file this lawsuit to vindicate his rights, incurring legal expenses as a result."

Relief Sought:

          "Piatt respectfully requests that the Court enjoin defendants to pay Piatt the difference in pay between Commander and Assistant Chief from February 2003 through his retirement (currently anticipated in June 2009), to pay his retirement package and salary at the rate appropriate to an Assistant Chief’s promoted to that position on March 19, 2006, and asks that the Court further enjoin the defendants to make all future promotions regardless of rank based on merit and performance and not racial set-asides, and grant Piatt attorney’s fees, exemplary damages, and costs incurred in prosecuting this suit, and such other and further relief as he may be justly entitled at law or equity."


Download the entire legal complaint here.
(Adobe Acrobat Reader required).


Attorneys for Piatt:

          Commander Harold Piatt is being represented by attorneys David Rogers and Steven Smith of the Texas Legal Foundation.

          The Texas Legal Foundation has an impressive history of advocating for indidivual rights, and played a key role in the historic Hopwood v. Texas decision which outlawed racial preferences in scholarships and admissions at Texas universities from 1996 until 2003.

Attorney Contact Info:

Texas Legal Foundation
710 West Avenue
Austin, TX  78701

Phone:   (512) 496-7818
Fax:  (512) 301-4097

Web Site:  http://texaslegalfoundation.org/

Email:  tlf@texaslegalfoundation.org

INDEX:

Summary
News
Lawsuit
Attorneys

END Case 52:
White Austin, TX Police Officer Sues for Reverse Discrimination

Main Site Index:

 

Top:
Go to Top of Page
MAIN NEWS
Index

by category
DONATE
Contributions are tax-deductible
HORROR
STORIES

and case studies
TERMS
and Definitions
SEARCH
Site
LEGAL HELP
Firms and Resources
LINKS MESSAGE
Board
GO:  Home Page
Home
Page Index
URL's and page names for site
Favorite
EDITORIALS

National opinion
DIRTY RACIAL
POLITICS

How Quotas are Enforced
EDITOR'S DESK
What's Hot!
RACIAL
PROFILING

D.O.J. Requires It!
EDUCATIONAL
TESTING

News Analysis
CENSUS 2000
Racism
ABOUT US

Copyright 2002 Adversity.Net, Inc., an IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational organization.  For problems or questions regarding this web contact editor@adversity.net    Last updated: July 05, 2007.

Go to Adversity.Net Home Page

*  We use the term reverse discrimination reluctantly and only because it is so widely understood.  In our opinion there really is only one kind of discrimination.