Wisconsin police department settles race discrimination lawsuit

On Behalf of | May 5, 2020 | Employment Law

Wisconsin is bordered in the east by Milwaukee and Lake Michigan and in the west by the Mississippi River and La Crosse. According to news reports, the city recently settled a former police officer’s race discrimination lawsuit for $83,000.

Nathan M. Poke alleged in his suit that he was discriminated against and then forced to resign because he is African American.

The La Crosse Tribune reported that at the time Poke left the city’s police department, it employed just two African American officers. Both Poke and the other officer filed race discrimination complaints against the city.

The other officer settled his complaint for $50,000 back in 2016.

The newspaper reported that court documents stated that Poke joined the La Crosse police force in 2011 and had been given positive job reviews over the years. He was also selected for the high-profile Neighborhood Resource Officer position, where he was teamed with a white officer.

However, the other Neighborhood Resource Officer confided to Poke that he had “stuff” he needed to dispose of: evidence bags containing used and clean hypodermic needles, Adderall pills and drug paraphernalia.

Poke then reported what he believed was officer misconduct to his supervisor.

A little more than two weeks after reporting the misconduct, Poke was demoted. An internal investigation of the other officer’s conduct was initiated, but the result of the inquiry was that Poke was placed on administrative leave by the department’s then-chief, who stated that he put Poke on leave due to “multiple policy violations.”

In his lawsuit, Poke alleged that his demotion and forced resignation were in retaliation for reporting misconduct by a white officer. He also stated that he resigned to save his career by avoiding unwarranted disciplinary action.

He’s now serving in a large metropolitan police department.

Employers are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, age, gender, disability, pregnancy, religion, sexual orientation and national origin. Contact the employment law attorneys of Alan C. Olson and Associates if a Milwaukee employer has violated your workplace rights.


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