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Former Medina police chief loses discrimination suit

Former Medina Police Chief Jeffrey Chen lost a racial discrimination lawsuit against the city on Aug. 21. He had been awarded $2 million in 2013 following a jury finding in favor of the former police chief's discrimination claim against the city and its manager at the time, Donna Hanson; Chen stated Hanson made racist comments toward him due to his Chinese descent.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly threw out the verdict in January, causing a retrial to occur earlier this year. The jury returned a verdict on Aug. 21, stating the city had not taken adverse employment actions against Chen based on his race.

Chen had resigned from the city on Dec. 17, 2010, following an investigation into allegations he had been accessing the city manager and mayor's emails. He allegedly acquired a login and password to the email system through the city clerk.

The former police chief rescinded his resignation six days later, and Hanson placed him on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Chen was fired on April 27, 2011, following a due process hearing seven days earlier. Chen sued the city for wrongful termination in December 2011, and sought $14 million in damages.

Chen's lawsuit had included allegations of a hostile work environment, breaches of employment policy, procedural due process and his First Amendment rights as a whistleblower.

Chen's allegations of racism against Hanson included a March 2009 discussion, where he claims the former city manager used offensive language while speaking about a Homeland Security grant pending review: "Stop badgering me on this issue, I can't decide right at this moment, besides, I thought you Chinese people were supposed to be more patient than this!"

Hanson resigned from the city following the first finding in favor of Chen, where a jury awarded him $2 million in damages. Hanson's severance agreement with the city included a year's salary and nearly $58,000 in retirement compensation.

 

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