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The Suburbanite
  • Ex-Perry police officer Janine England files discrimination complaint against township

  • Former Perry Township police officer Janine D. England wants her job back, or at least an offer for it, according to her attorney Avery Friedman. England, who was fired by township trustees July 7, 2009, after a cruiser camera video showed her kissing and caressing former Police Chief Timothy Escola du...
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  • Former Perry Township police officer Janine D. England wants her job back, or at least an offer for it, according to her attorney Avery Friedman.
    England, who was fired by township trustees July 7, 2009, after a cruiser camera video showed her kissing and caressing former Police Chief Timothy Escola during a trip to Cincinnati to pick up a prisoner, has filed a discrimination complaint against the township with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
    Friedman, a civil rights attorney and legal analyst for CNN, has also taken the case to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
    “She feels she wants her record expunged of any adverse entries and her job back or at least the offer of her job back,” Friedman said.
    Friedman said the 31-year-old England deserves the offer even though she tried to resign.
    “She resigned because she was kissing the chief, but she had highest felony arrest records of anyone in department,” he said. “She was a good cop. She needed to put her behavior in context. She obviously resigned before she contacted a federal civil rights lawyer. She obviously wants her job back and she’d like them to apologize for firing her after she quit.”
    Would England accept the job if offered?
    “I don’t know,” Friedman said. “If they start complying with federal law and give instructions on how to treat people she should have the option. Whether or not she takes it, the township should still offer the job back to her.”
     England, of Sri Lanka, claims trustees treated her differently than other former officers, specifically white males, because they were allowed to resign following allegations of misconduct and she was not. England offered trustees her resignation following days of media reports over the case, but she was fired instead. Escola retired after the township was tipped off about the June 2, 2009, excursion, but a day before the cruiser camera footage surfaced.
    A mediation hearing in Cleveland was unsuccessful last week. A formal investigation will be conducted by the EEOC. Friedman said the case may eventually end up in front of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Solomon Oliver Jr., who is also hearing the case of prisoner Matthew Ruble against England, Escola and the township.
    Ruble, who faced burglary charges at the time England and Escola went to arrest him on warrants in Cincinnati, is accusing them of false arrest, among other things. The charges against him were dropped the day after the arrest.
    Friedman said a suit will either be filed by the Justice Department or England. He claims the township allowed six American-born men to quit, rather than face being fired, for conduct that includes criminal offenses. England did not commit a criminal act.
    Page 2 of 2 - “You can commit felonies and you’re permitted to resign?” Friedman said. “Here this woman is kissing the chief, she resigns, which under Ohio law is automatic, she resigns, and they still fire her.”
    Perry Law Director Charles Hall and attorney Gregory Beck, who is defending the township in both cases, could not immediately be reached for comment. Beck and Hall defended trustees’ decision to fire England during interviews last week.
    They said England was a probationary employee and did not enjoy the same protections as a non-probationary employee or a bargaining unit employee. Beck said the other employees were outside their probationary periods and were entitled to additional due process procedures, like grievance hearings. He also said trustees have the right to treat each case differently.
    Hall recommended that trustees fire England so she could not make future claims that she was forced to resign. The recommendation came after e-mails between Escola and England surfaced. Hall said the e-mails proved that England was a voluntarily participant.
    Hall also said last week that there is no basis for the claim that trustees discriminated against England based on race, national origin or gender. He called the complaint “frivolous.”
    Friedman said it’s the exact opposite.
    “I like this case a lot,” he said. “You couldn’t hire screenwriters to come up with this.”
    Friedman said federal law is unconcerned with whether an employee is permanent or probationary. He added that federal law does not require him to prove that it was trustees’ intent to discriminate against England.
    “They knew what American-born officers and members of safety forces got away with (in the past),” he said. “It’s a loser of an argument.”

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