‘Uncharacterized’ Discharge From Service Disqualifies Police Officer Applicant

Allen Bishop applied to be a police officer with the City of Texarkana, Texas. Bishop passed the written exam and fitness test and was placed on the eligibility list for potential appointment. After a background check, though, the Department informed Bishop that he had been removed from the eligibility list because he was not “license eligible” for the position of police officer. Bishop then sued, contending that the real reason he was removed from the eligibility list was because of his race.

A federal district court dismissed Bishop’s lawsuit. The Court observed that under Texas state law, the minimum standards for licensing police officers provide that an applicant is not qualified if the applicant was discharged from any military service “under less than honorable conditions.” Bishop had served in the United States Army Reserves, and received an “uncharacterized discharge.”

The Court found that under Texas rules, the designation of “under less than honorable conditions” encompasses an “uncharacterized” discharge. In the eyes of the Court, “Bishop was not qualified for the position of entry-level police officer as a matter of law, and his race and discrimination claim should be dismissed.”

Bishop v. Texarkana, Texas, 2009 WL 1010867 (E.D. Tex. 2009).

This article appears in the June 2009 issue