Couple sues police department, claims discrimination
Published 10:45 am Friday, December 9, 2011
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Two former Alabaster Police Department employees recently sued the department claiming they were fired from the agency in 2010 based on racial discrimination.
Birmingham attorney George Huddleston III filed the suit in U.S. District Court in early December on behalf of Calera residents Leonard and Rebecca Hicks. From 2006-2009, Leonard Hicks, who is black, served as an Alabaster police officer and Rebecca Hicks, who is white, served as an APD dispatcher.
According to the complaint filed by Huddleston, Alabaster Police Chief Stanley Oliver “called the plaintiffs into his office and inquired whether the plaintiffs had been involved in a personal relationship during the period of their employments with the (department). Both defendants admitted that they had, that Rebecca Wright Hicks was then pregnant and had put in for maternity leave.”
According to the complaint, Oliver then told the couple, who were engaged at the time, they had violated a department standard operating procedure barring fraternization between department employees.
Oliver then “forced” the two employees to resign at the instruction of the city attorney, read the complaint.
After the two employees resigned, they “learned that similarly situated Caucasian officers were treated differently than they had been by the defendant.” During questioning before their resignations, the two employees were submitted to “impertinent and demeaning questioning” by department and city officials, read the complaint.
The complaint alleges the APD is a “racially hostile working environment” and “racial jokes and overtly racial comments are commonplace.”
The two former employees are seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, the repayment of attorney’s fees and court costs and “all other damaged to which the plaintiff may be entitled.”
Alabaster City Attorney Jeff Brumlow said he “couldn’t give a comment on personnel issues,” and said the non-fraternization policy is an APD standard operating procedure.