- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (AP) - The city of Springfield is facing a lawsuit from the police department’s former cultural liaison who says she was fired for talking about racial profiling complaints.

Thelma Barone said in her lawsuit filed Monday that she was disciplined shortly after an audience member at a community event asked about racial profiling, and she responded that there had been complaints from the community, the Register-Guard reported (https://bit.ly/1E3hpio).

Her lawsuit says she was put on administrative leave and an investigation was launched into whether she lied about getting permission for teenagers to take pictures during a tour of the department.

“That was their given reason, but just because your employer says this is the reason doesn’t mean that it’s true,” said Barone’s attorney, Andrew Lewinter.

The lawsuit says Barone was eventually demoted to patrol duty and was fired Wednesday. She said she’d refused to sign an agreement that said she wouldn’t “speak or write anything of a disparaging or negative manner” about the department, the city or its employees.

A statement from Springfield spokesman Niel Laudati says Barone was not fired over her comments at the event.

“In fact, during that presentation Chief Tim Doney introduced her to the group at Ms. Barone’s request and even assisted her with answering questions, including one regarding racial profiling. Our legal counsel has instructed us not to provide further details at this time,” the statement said. “We look forward to responding to the allegations in court.”

Police Chief Tim Doney, the city and three of its employees were named in the lawsuit.


Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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