The City of Oakland was recently sued by a sergeant in its homicide unit.
The sergeant, Derwin Longmire, drew considerable media attention a few years ago for his involvement in a case involving the slaying of an Oakland journalist named Chauncey Bailey.
Authorities accused Longmire of mishandling the investigation, which implicated Yusuf Bey IV, the leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, a local bakery and self-described “black empowerment group.”
According to court documents, Longmire was placed on administrative leave when an internal affairs investigation made his termination seem likely. That investigation ultimately did not prove Longmire’s ties with the Bakery, so he was not disciplined and returned to work.
While Longmire was on paid leave, Lieutenant Brian Medeiros replaced Lieutenant Ersie Joyner as his supervisor. Medeiros reviewed open files of several officers upon taking up his new command and noticed a “systematic lack of follow-up” in Longmire’s cases.
Medeiros decided to file an internal complaint based on Longmire’s prior work, which ultimately resulted in an 8-day suspensions for investigatory neglect in eight cases.
Longmire Legal Case and Outcome
The 8-day suspension caused Longmire to file a lawsuit against Oakland for violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Specifically, Longmire said that he was discriminated against based on the perception of his supervisors that he was a black Muslim.
It is illegal for supervisors to discriminate against an employee because of their race or religion. Unfortunately, an appeals court recently ruled that Longmire had no evidence that his employers believed that he was a black Muslim or that his suspension was the result of any such belief.
The court specifically found that being placed on administrative leave during a misconduct investigation was not an “adverse employment action” in the context of a discrimination claim. This is especially the case in situations where the investigation doesn’t result in discipline.
Additionally, the court found that Oakland presented sufficient evidence of a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for Longmire’s suspension. This objective basis for the discipline, and Longmire’s admission that he failed to perform basic investigatory follow-up in several of his cases, ultimately barred his discrimination claim.