U.S. Air Force granted summary judgment in discrimination suit filed by former police officer

By Elizabeth Alt | May 19, 2018

LOS ANGELES – On May 7, the U.S. District Court for the Central California District Court granted summary judgment to the U.S. Air Force in a former police officer’s lawsuit alleging he was punished and suspended because of his race.

LOS ANGELES – On May 7, the U.S. District Court for the Central California District Court granted summary judgment to the U.S. Air Force in a former police officer’s lawsuit alleging he was punished and suspended because of his race.

Judge Otis D. Wright II wrote the court order, noting that the Air Force had provided records and evidence showing the plaintiff had violated certain codes and that its disciplinary measures were standard, not done in retaliation or in a discriminatory manor.

“Ultimately, (Darrell) Worthen’s attempts to show evidence of discrimination or pretext amount to mere denials of defendant’s proffered reasons for the suspension, which is not sufficient to defeat summary judgment,” the order states.

Plaintiff Darrell Worthen filed two Title VII employment discrimination lawsuits against the U.S. Air Force in 2015 after filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Worthen is an African-American male and alleges that he was discriminated against for his race, stating in his complaint that the “discrimination is manifested by a failure to promote, reduction in wages, working conditions that differed from similarly situated employees, harassment, bullying, intimidation, reprisal, retaliation, demotion and wrongful discharge from employment for a period of time.”

In his suit, Worthen claims from 2011 to 2014 he was discriminated against or retaliated against for his earlier EEOC complaints by being suspended, having his security clearance revoked, among other actions.

Wright noted that Worthen did not show any proof that “other similarly situated employees were treated more favorably” and stated that the defendant had provided multiple records that showed continuing issues with his employment such as violating dress code, excessive tardiness and financial troubles.

Worthen claimed that he had a delayed paycheck because someone was “tampering with his timecard to cause him emotional distress.” The Air Force stated it was a simple error and had notes showing that it worked to correct it as quickly as possible. Wright said “Worthen has not demonstrated that the suspension was more likely motivated by race than by defendant’s articulated reasons.”

Worthen argued that he was placed on leave restriction in violation the Family and Medical Leave Act. Wright stated Worthen did not provide “evidence that defendant’s action was more likely motivated by race or retaliation” necessary for summary judgement and noted that the Air Force had records that the leave restriction was in response to Worthen’s “history of unexcused absences and tardiness.”

Wright stated that noted that Worthen’s security clearance was revoked for “continued financial and debt problems,” and that no evidence was provided to show that the act was done in retaliation or discrimination.

The court order granted summary judgment to the Air Force.

U.S. District Court Central District of California case numbers 2:15-cv-01747-ODW-JC and 2:16-cv-03181-ODW-JC

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