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Turner v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 24, 2017

BRYAN J. TURNER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ROBERT F. KELLY, SR. J.

         Presently before the Court is Defendant City of Philadelphia's (“the City”) Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff Bryan J. Turner's (“Turner”) Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons noted below, the City's Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND [[1]]

         Plaintiff Bryan J. Turner is a black male who has been employed as a police officer by the City of Philadelphia since 2011. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 8.) He was assigned to the 24th Police District once he graduated from the Police Academy in March 2012. (SOF ¶ 2.)

         The problems relating to Turner's Complaint have their origin in January 2015. In October or November 2014, Turner requested assignment to the “drop back shift, ” where an officer works from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. (Id. ¶ 3.) In January 2015, instead of being assigned to the drop back shift, he was assigned to the “last out shift, ” where an officer works from 12:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. (Id. ¶ 4.) When Turner realized he was placed on the last out shift instead of the drop back shift, he raised his concerns with Lieutenant Steven Arch (“Lt. Arch”) and Sergeant Bebe (“Sgt. Bebe”), who said the situation would be rectified within a few weeks. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 6.) As requested, Turner was transferred to the drop back shift in early February 2015. (Id. ¶ 7.)

         In February 2015, Sgt. Bebe recommended that Turner receive a commendation as a result of a large narcotics seizure. (Id. ¶ 9.) Lt. Arch, however, denied the recommendation for the commendation because you “don't get commendations for doing your job.” (Id. ¶ 10; see also Ex. A (Deposition of Turner (“Turner Dep.”) at 26.)) In the same month, Turner and another officer thwarted an armed robbery, but failed to apprehend the suspect. (Id. ¶ 13.) The next day, he and Officer Eliezer Morales (“Morales”) observed the suspect and apprehended him. (Id. ¶ 14.) During the pursuit, the suspect was able to throw narcotics into a nearby sewer, which Turner was able to eventually retrieve. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 16.) Turner claims that Lt. Arch yelled at him about the arrest because Turner failed to retrieve a gun from the sewer, leading to the accusation that Turner was going to return for the gun and use it “for his own reasons.” (Id. ¶ 17.) Lt. Arch then banned Turner from working with Morales until Turner regained Lt. Arch's trust. (Id. ¶ 19.)

         Shortly after his meeting with Lt. Arch, Turner overheard Lt. Arch say to a different individual that unqualified African Americans are being put in positions of power because of affirmative action, not because those individuals deserve to be there. (Id. ¶ 20.) On March 9, 2015, Turner drafted a memorandum to Captain O'Connor (“Capt. O'Connor”) regarding his interactions with Lt. Arch and the racially-insensitive comment he overheard Lt. Arch make. (Id. ¶ 21.) Turner claims he filed copies of the memorandum with Corporal Guridy (“Cpl. Guridy”), Sgt. Bebe, and Lt. Arch. (Id.)

         On March 28, 2015, Turner requested to be transferred from drop back shift to “Two Squad, ” which is a group of officers that work alternating day and night shifts. (Id. ¶ 27.) Capt. O'Connor initially refused Turner's request due to lack of personnel, but later approved the transfer request effective June 8, 2015. (Id. ¶ 28.) Turner claims that once he was transferred to Two Squad he was warned by Corporal Roscoe to “dot your I's and cross your T's” because his supervisors just had a meeting about him and they were looking “for anything they can [to] jam [him] up on.” (Turner Dep. at 124; see also SOF ¶ 70.)

         On April 8, 2015, Turner had a sit-down meeting with Capt. O'Connor about his memorandum, and Cpt. O'Connor gave him a copy of the City's EEO Policy and an internal EEO Complaint form. (SOF ¶¶ 22, 23.) Approximately one hour after the meeting with Cpt. O'Connor, Turner claims he was called back into the district office and told he has “72 hours to get representation, ” as he was being brought up on disciplinary charges for missing two days of court in March 2015. (Turner Dep. at 56-57.) On April 15, 2015, he had his formal interview regarding missing court, where he explained that on one of the days he had prior obligations with the National Guard, and the other day he was sick. (SOF ¶ 25.) Turner was not disciplined for missing court. (Id. ¶ 36.)

         On April 14, 2015, Turner filed a formal EEO Complaint with the Philadelphia Police Department Equal Employment Opportunity Unit, which culminated in the City interviewing twenty-four police officers and a detailed list of findings. (Id. ¶ 41.)

         After giving his statement to Capt. O'Connor, Police Officer Phillip Lang (“Lang”) conveyed to Turner that Lt. Arch had a roll call with Turner's squad and had said to be careful around Turner because Turner was “throwing everybody under the bus.” (Id. ¶ 36; see also Turner Dep. 85-87.) As a result of Lt. Arch's comments, Turner claims that none of the officers in his squad wanted to work with him or back him up while he was on patrol. (Id. ¶¶ 37-39.) After the meeting with Capt. O'Connor, Lt. Arch also refused to assign Turner to “Patrol Service Area 2, ” which is a high-crime area that generated assets. (Id. ¶¶ 51, 54.) However, once Turner transferred to Two Squad on June 8, 2015, his supervisor, Lieutenant Perez (“Lt. Perez”) also did not assign him to Patrol Service Area 2. (Id. ¶ 52.) Similarly, Lt. Perez's replacement, Lieutenant McGlinn, did not assign him to Patrol Service Area 2. (Id. ¶ 53.)

         On June 6, 2015, Cpl. Guridy gave Turner a parking ticket for parking in a spot marked “Corporal Only.” (Id. ¶ 56.) Turner testified that Cpl. Guridy called him while he was on a domestic incident to say that his car was in a “Corporal Only” spot and that it needed to be moved. (Turner Dep. at 100-01.) Turner said he would move it as soon as he got back from the domestic incident. (Id. at 101.) About fifteen or twenty minutes later, Turner went to move his car and found a parking ticket on it. (Id.) He looked around the parking lot and saw numerous cars parked in spots marked for lieutenants, sergeants, judges, and handicapped individuals, but none of those cars had tickets on them. (Id. at 102.) He started taking pictures of the cars and their license plates, and while doing so, Sergeant Marisol came out and watched him. (Id.) Sergeant Marisol then went inside the office and came back out with Lt. Arch, who both stood there talking among themselves for about a minute. (Id.) They both went back inside the office and “[e]verybody comes [out] and starts moving their cars.” (Id.) Turner testified that all of the cars were moved within five minutes of him taking the pictures. (Id.) The record also indicates that on August 25, 2015, Cpl. Guridy gave Police Officer Lang, a white male, a parking ticket for parking in a “Corporal Only” spot. (SOF ¶ 57.)

         Turner testified that Cpl. Guridy refused to pay him overtime on two occasions when he had to work past the end of his shift. (Id. ¶ 58.) He was eventually paid in both instances after Capt. O'Connor intervened on his behalf. (Id. ¶ 59.)

         Turner also claims that Capt. O'Connor refused to transfer him away from the 24th Police District when Corporal Pawlowski (“Cpl. Pawlowski”) was moved there. (Id. ¶ 60.) Turner claims Cpl. Pawlowski once made a racially-charged statement to him at an off-duty Fraternal Order of Police Christmas party. (Id. ¶ 61.) However, Cpl. Pawlowski did not supervise Turner once he was transferred to the 24th Police District, and Capt. O'Connor asked Turner's then-supervisor, Lieutenant McGlinn, to check with Turner weekly to make sure that Cpl. Pawlowski was not harassing him. (Id. ¶ 62.)

         On September 4, 2015, Lt. Perez questioned Turner about why he used sick leave on September 3, 2015. (Id. ¶ 63.) Lt. Perez told Turner that his pattern of calling out of court was what the Federal Bureau of Investigations looked for when investigating corrupt officers. (Id.) Turner then sent Capt. O'Connor a memorandum detailing his concerns with Lt. Perez's comments. (Id. ¶ 64.)

         In November 2015, Turner was assigned to bicycle patrol and was told to borrow a bike from the 25th Police District, which was a “fair” bicycle. (Id. ¶ 65; see also Turner Dep. at 116.) Turner claims that his police district received new bikes, but he was not given one. (Id. ¶ 67.)

         At some unknown time, but before Turner was transferred from drop back shift to Two Squad, he was docked thirty minutes of vacation time because he was fifteen minutes late for his shift. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 30.) He also claims that Lt. Arch threatened to dock him for attending college courses that occurred during his shift, although Lt. Arch did not actually dock him any time for attending school. (Id. ¶¶ 33, 35.)

         Turner's EEO Complaint was not the only EEO Complaint filed against Lt. Arch. After Turner filed his EEO Complaint, Police Officers Payeski, Timothy Coleman (“Coleman”), Lang, Daniel Mitchell (“Mitchell”), and Michael Hanuscin (“Hanuscin”) filed complaints against Lt. Arch, which included inappropriate comments, physical abuse, attempting to unilaterally change an officer's squad assignment, sending officers on dangerous foot beats, and giving a parking ticket to an officer for parking in a “Corporal Only” spot. (Id. ¶¶ 45(a)-(d).)

         On August 15, 2015, Turner filed his formal charge of race discrimination and retaliation with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and dual filed the charge with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. (Compl. ¶ 6.) On May 18, 2016, the EEOC issued a dismissal notice and notice of rights. (Id. ¶ 7.) On August 16, 2016, Turner filed a Complaint in this Court alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), 43 P.S. § 951 et seq. Based on the aforementioned conduct, Turner claims the City has ‚Äúracially discriminated against and/or retaliated against [him] for opposing and objecting to discriminatory conduct, and has created both a racially hostile environment and a ...


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