TUPELO • After being promoted to the rank of lieutenant, Tiffany Gilleylen is retiring from the Tupelo Police Department following a recent racial discrimination lawsuit she brought against the police department that has since been settled.
After the Tupelo City Council voted to agree to the confidential settlement in a private executive session at its meeting on Sept. 3, it was not known that Gilleylen would retire from the police force. However, the City Council at its latest meeting on Tuesday voted to approve a request Gilleylen made to purchase her service weapon from the department for $1 “upon her retirement from the Tupelo Police Department.” This procedure is a common practice and is allowed under state law for retiring law enforcement officials.
The agenda for the council meeting on Tuesday also referred to Gilleylen as a lieutenant. Gilleylen was a sergeant, indicating she has now been promoted.
When asked if Gilleylen’s promotion or retirement was a part of the racial discrimination lawsuit settlement, Don Lewis, the city’s chief operating officer, told the Daily Journal that would be a “safe assumption” to conclude, but did not go into specific details of the settlement because of the confidentiality of the settlement.
Ben Logan, the city’s attorney, told the Daily Journal that Gilleylen qualified for retirement at the end of August and her promotion to the rank of lieutenant “was a part of the resolution of the case.”
Gilleylen has been an officer for two decades, according to a lawsuit she filed in March.
Jim Waide, Gilleylen’s attorney, also said he could not discuss the terms of the settlement but did say Gilleylen retiring from the police force and being promoted to the rank of lieutenant are both “accurate.”
Gilleylen filed the now-settled discrimination lawsuit against the police department 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.
Waide previously told the Daily Journal Gilleylen and the city settled the case to their “mutual satisfaction.”
“She’s an outstanding officer. Just phenomenal,” Waide said of Gilleylen at the time. “She’s just very frustrated by not being able to get ahead in the police department.”
Gilleylen also filed a lawsuit against the police department in 2015. At the time, she was a corporal in the patrol division, and she interviewed to become a sergeant, according to the lawsuit she filed. 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 goes to trial in October.
The lawsuit says Baker was fired because she reported alleged sexual harassment by a male sergeant and because she initially complained that officers were not being paid the wages they were due.
Before Baker filed her lawsuit, the city previously examined payment issues with officers in the department, which resulted in an investigation from the U.S Department of Labor. In December 2017, the city agreed to pay eligible officers approximately $850,000 in back wages. Baker claims she was one of the officers who initially complained about the pay issues.