City attorneys have asked a Philadelphia judge to dismiss the lawsuit of N. Melville Jones, a gay police officer who claims pervasive anti-LGBT workplace bias.
In a 64-page motion filed Oct. 6, city attorneys said Jones’ lawsuit lacks merit and should be dismissed before it goes to trial.
Jones, 55, is a 16-year veteran of the force. He’s suing the city in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court for more than $50,000 in damages.
Jones claims his former supervisor, C. Daniel Castro, spotted Jones leaving a gay bar in 2009 and outed him a few months later by circulating an office memo that referred to him as “Mel Cums Jones.”
But in its Oct. 6 motion for dismissal, the city denies that the memo outed Jones.
“The language in the memo does not specifically reference [Jones’] sexual orientation,” the motion states. “The word ‘cums’ refers to a bodily function that equally applies to persons of all sexual orientations, not just gay individuals. Therefore, the Oct. 28, 2009, memo did not reveal to the department that [Jones] was gay.”
Jones also alleges that Castro reassigned him to the “graveyard” shift as a punitive measure because Jones wouldn’t be his protégé and participate in unscrupulous practices.
But the city motion contends that Jones’ reassignment was strictly a “business” decision, not motivated by anti-LGBT animus.
The motion also notes that 21 non-LGBT police officers also were reassigned to the graveyard shift during the same time period.
“[Jones] cannot maintain that he was targeted by Castro because of his sexual orientation, because 21 similarly situated heterosexual officers were treated the same,” the motion states.
Castro, 51, is currently incarcerated in federal prison due to an unrelated extortion conviction. His scheduled release date is April 7, 2015.
Jones also contends that four other supervisors harassed him due to his sexual orientation. Their alleged behavior includes accusing Jones of having sex in the men’s locker room, making untoward comments about Jones’ anus and referring to a lesbian police officer as a “carpet muncher.”
The city says those allegations must be dismissed because Jones didn’t include them in complaints that he filed with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.
As for a supervisor’s comments about Jones’ anus, the city’s motion states: “Comments about [Jones’] anus did not affect [Jones’] ability to do his job because [Jones] was used to working in an environment where people joked about such things.”
Even if all of Jones’ allegations are true, the city’s motion adds, they don’t rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment.
“Because the city took appropriate remedial action to address Jones’ complaints of alleged harassment and because Jones unreasonably failed to utilize the city’s reporting procedures, Jones has failed to establish a cause of action for hostile work environment,” the motion concludes.
At presstime, the city’s motion for dismissal remained pending before Common Pleas Judge Ellen Ceisler.
Jones’ attorneys have 20 days to respond. Neither side had a comment for this story.
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