Calling Officer A ‘Pain’ Not Gender Or Race Discrimination

Sharon Davis, an African-American, was employed as a police officer with the Newark, New Jersey Police Department. Davis filed a seven-count lawsuit against the City, alleging that she was retaliated against for raising issues of racial and gender discrimination.

The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected all of Davis’s claims. The Court held that, “even accepting Davis’s allegations, she has failed to claim that she was retaliated against due to her complaints about conduct prohibited by Title VII. For instance, she purportedly complained about certain violations of departmental regulations – such as another officer’s transfer, officers smoking on site, and the practice of sending one-officer units to two-officer areas – but she does not claim that those complaints alleged the existence of unlawful discrimination. Similarly, her reports to supervisors about being called a ‘pain’ did not ascribe the criticism to her race or gender. She either did not identify any cause for the disparagement, or identified some cause that is outside Title VII’s ambit (as when she complained that an officer criticized her because she was being paid overtime for medical treatment). Because Davis’s sundry complaints to her superiors failed to identify any conduct proscribed by Title VII, they do not amount to protected activity.”

Davis v. City of Newark, 2011 WL 815678 (3d Cir. 2011).

This article appears in the August 2011 issue