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Maplewood Isn't Alone in Facing Police Discrimination Cases

The City of Chesterfield will also face a discrimination lawsuit.

Maplewood Isn't Alone in Facing Police Discrimination Cases

Former Chesterfield police sergeant William Whitely filed an employment discrimination suit July 8 in St. Louis County against the City of Chesterfield after being fired from the police department in September.

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On April 12, Whitely was granted his “right to sue” under the Americans with Disabilities Act after filing a charge of discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to court documents, Whitely, a 12-year veteran of the Chesterfield police, injured his ankle during an on-duty fitness test required for promotion to sergeant.

Whitely said he received workers compensation and was treated for his injuries by a Chesterfield doctor who deemed him fit for fulll duty, despite Whitely’s concern. Whitely also said he received hostile and malicious treatment from city officials, including police chief Ray Johnson and captains of the police department in reference to his injury.

During one exchange, Whitely said in court papers, he was working front desk duty after an unpaid leave for foot surgery — which required him to wear a medical boot — when Sgt. Cheryl Funkhouser, who was recovering from a broken ankle, walked by.

According to the documents, Whitely said Chief Johnson referred to Funkhouser, who was wearing a shoe since her medical boot had been removed, commenting, “See that’s how you recover from a minor injury.”

Whitely also said he was told to perform work in violation of medical restrictions made by his doctor. On Sept. 29, Whitely received a letter written by City Administrator Michael Herring from Chief Johnson, which stated that “effective Oct. 2, 2010”  Whitely’s “position must now be eliminated.”

Whitely is being represented by Greg Kloeppel and is seeking a judgment from St. Louis County judge Richard C. Bresnahan for lost wages, other benefits of employment, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.

Robert Heggie of Stewart, Mittleman, Heggie, and Henry is representing Chesterfield.

Kloeppel is visiting Europe and when reached briefly for comment while traveling offered that he was representing both Whitely and members of the police department in separate cases.

Kloeppel is also representing the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 15 on behalf of a number of Chesterfield and University City police officers in their collective bargaining case that has been moved from Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District to the Missouri Supreme Court.

They are fighting to have the Fraternal Order of Police recognized by the municipalities as their collective bargaining representative.

Before sending the case to the Missouri Supreme Court, the appellate court offered two opinions, which stated they were likely to side with the police union, but wanted to have the Missouri Supreme Court decide.

Robert Heggie confirmed that he is also representing Chesterfield in this case.

See previous columns on Patch:

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