TUPELO • City officials are settling a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Tupelo Police Department after a sergeant claimed she was passed over for a promotion on the basis of her gender and race.
The Tupelo City Council approved the settlement on Tuesday night after it went into a private executive session to discuss the details of the lawsuit. City Attorney Ben Logan said the settlement is confidential and he could not disclose any of the specifics of the agreement.
TPD Sgt. Tiffany Gilleylen first filed the discrimination lawsuit in federal court in March and claims a lieutenant position became open when an officer in the department retired.
“(The police department) declined to immediately fill that position, because (Gilleylen) was the person in the patrol division most objectively qualified to receive the promotion,” the lawsuit reads.
Gilleylen’s attorney, Jim Waide, told the Daily Journal both parties settled the case to their “mutual satisfaction,” but he also could not reveal any specifics of the settlement.
“She’s an outstanding officer. Just phenomenal,” Waide said of Gilleylen. “She’s just very frustrated by not being able to get ahead in the police department.”
This is the second lawsuit Gilleylen has filed against the police department and city. In 2015, Gilleylen was a corporal in the patrol division, and she interviewed to become a sergeant. Gilleylen was initially passed over for that job, which she claims was also because she is black.
“After (Gilleylen) filed this EEOC charge complaining about being rejected for the sergeant position in favor of an unqualified white male, the (police department) finally promoted her to sergeant of patrol,” the lawsuit reads.
The city also settled this suit, and Gilleylen was promoted to the rank of sergeant afterward.
Waide is also representing Jennifer Baker, who worked for TPD for about four years until she was terminated in March 2017.
In February 2018, Baker sued the city of Tupelo in the U.S. District Court for violating her civil rights.The case is scheduled to go to trial in October.
The lawsuit says Baker was fired because she reported alleged sexual harassment by a male sergeant and she complained that officers were not being paid the wages they were due. The latter allegation ended with a Department of Labor investigation and the city agreeing to pay $850,000.