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|Former Atlanta Police LGBT liaison alleges discrimination based on sexual orientation|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|September 10, 2010 11:56|
Dani Lee Harris, who was once the Atlanta Police Department’s LGBT liaison but has been on medical and administrative leave since April, filed a complaint with the Atlanta Citizens Review Board alleging sexual discrimination and harassment from a civilian employee of the APD.
CRB Executive Director Cristina Beamud informed the board Thursday about the complaint as part of the board’s “intake” — deciding which cases it will ask staff to investigate.
The CRB had to dismiss the case at Thursday’s meeting because it does not fall under the board’s jurisdiction, explained Beamud.
Harris’ complaint alleges an APD employee used abusive language and discriminated against her based on her gender identity and sexual orientation. Harris came out publicly as intersex several years ago.
“She feels she has been discriminated against because of her sexual orientation. This issue is rather serious,” Beamud said. “The most notable violation was the language she was subjected to but that was uttered by a non-sworn employee. And the whole issue of discrimination in the workplace is not within this board’s jurisdiction.”
The CRB may investigate complaints that fall into the following categories: abusive language; false arrest; false imprisonment; harassment; use of excessive force; serious bodily injury; or death that is alleged to be the result of the actions of a sworn employee of the Atlanta Police Department or the Atlanta Department of Corrections.
According to the complaint filed with CRB, Harris said she was subjected to a derogatory remark on April 16 about her gender identity. A recording of the remarks is included with the complaint, Harris told Georgia Voice.
Harris also filed a complaint with the APD’s Office of Professional Standards several months ago. An OPS officer at the CRB hearing Thursday told the board that the investigation into Harris’s complaint was complete and “some form of discipline will be forthcoming” against the non-sworn employee.
Harris has said she feels she’s subjected to discrimination from her supervisors since the Atlanta Eagle raid last year when she spoke out against some of the alleged tactics of the Red Dog Unit, such as the alleged use of anti-gay slurs.
Joy Morrisey, chair of the CRB, said Harris’ complaint was a serious issue that the public needed to be aware of and she could not understand why an officer was not allowed to return to work.
“I know of other officers who have had physical problems and been able to work 911, for example. I don’t understand why she isn’t allowed to come back to work and it’s horrible she’s not receiving a salary,” Morrisey said. “An officer is not allowed to be an officer. A non-sworn officer slurred her, she has some health problems, but why is she not allowed to work an administrative position?”
Harris has said her doctors have told her she is fit to come back to work although she cannot drive due to seizures she had several months ago.
“It’s disappointing, especially with them having the tape recording [of the alleged abusive language],” Harris said about the CRB’s decision to dismiss her case.
“The harsh language used — it brings tears to my eyes that someone was so bold to say the things they said,” Harris added. She declined to comment further on specifics of the case until after the OPS investigation is complete.
Harris said she and the person she filed the complaint against have the same boss and the entire situation continues to be “frustrating.”
“I’m not able to come back to work and I don’t know why. It’s OK if they take some form of ‘disciplinary action’ [against the person she filed the complaint against], but I feel they’ve taken disciplinary action by harassing me,” Harris said. “They have punished me since the Eagle raid. But I will step up to say what I think is wrong.”
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