‘Style Your Hair Like a White Officer’ Was Last Straw, Black Female Sgt. Files Civil Lawsuit

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*We smile through it, don’t we? I remember being so happy when I was once hired to work at a prominent Los Angeles radio station more than a decade ago. But from day one, (and subsequently two years later), the Caucasian GM walked by my desk each morning; where I sat right next to a white woman who held the same position as I, and spoke to her — yet ignored me. The story you are about to read took me right back to that time. Sgt. Qiana Brown was obviously being a “good sport” in the picture above even though she has continued to endure years of harassment, including racial and gender discrimination. It’s crap like THIS that makes the blood of Black folk and other well-meaning individuals just boil! To hear that a female veteran-turned-police officer-turned-sergeant and now mom has been through hell just because of her skin color makes me tremble with rage as I type this.

Ignorant heartless, souless, bastards!!!

Now Sgt. Qiana Brown of Hillside, New Jersey has been forced to file a civil law suit that spells out the treatment she has endured in detail. She has been denied promotions even though her test scores were among the highest; she was denied the right to express breast milk as she requested after having her baby; her hours were revised so that she could not spend time with her infant, and on and on and on.

Brown, an army vet who has been with the Hillside police department since 2003, has already won two claims she took to the EEOC, spelling out the same drama over the years. Both victories were based on claims of discrimination. According to a news report in NJ.com, in 2012, and again last year, the EEOC found that she had been discriminated against based on her race and gender. She received back pay, but Brown says the discrimination continues to persist after those findings, according to the suit.

According to the lawsuit filed by Brown:

On many occasions, (Brown) did not get an opportunity to express milk due to police service calls which (she) was involved in being the supervisor assigned to the front desk…She suffered severely engorged and painful breasts as a result.

In addition, Brown’s hairstyle was often attacked by her supervisors.

“(Brown) was specifically advised that her hair must be styled like a Caucasian female officer’s hair, despite the fact that (Brown) is African American, and, further, her hair style was in compliance” with town policies, the suit says.

Supervisors referred to her hair as “kinky” and “not conservative,” the suit says.

The suit further states that within a week of Brown’s return from maternity leave in 2014, she found a painting of a rat with her badge number on a bathroom wall at headquarters, according to the suit.

Brown’s former chief, Robert Quinlan, (also pictured above with Brown) corroborated her mistreatment in his own 2014 whistleblower lawsuit against the department.

Robert Quinlan, former Hillside police chief who defended Brown.
Robert Quinlan, former Hillside police chief who defended Brown.

According to Quinlan, he told then-mayor Joseph Menza that denying her the proper pay would be discrimination. Quinlan also claimed that Menza targeted him for seeking to promote Brown. In a 2013 NJ.com article, Quilan’s impending resignation was said to happen on February 1, and cites the reason being “relentless retaliation and harassment” by Hillside Mayor Joseph Menza,

In his lawsuit, Quinlan said the mayor opposed “the advancement of African-American females in the police department.”

Quinlan also took his concerns to the town council, the lawsuit said, writing that “although Officer Brown has been economically damaged and humiliated by Mayor Menza, she continues to perform her duties in an exemplary manner, day in and day out.”

“Qiana grew up in Hillside, and the only time she really left Hillside is to serve in the military before signing up to become a police officer,” said McMahon. “Sergeant Brown loves her job, her fellow officers, and the people in the community she proudly serves. This woman does not want to be given a smidgen of special treatment, or any type of leg-up, because she happens to be an African-American woman. But that certainly does not mean that she should be punished simply because of the complexion of her skin or the fact that she is a woman and a mom. Absolutely not.”

Brown is seeking damages as well as back pay and seniority. Union County Judge Robert J. Mega is set to hear the case; which is not new to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office; who not only has known about it for quite some time, but has now called on acting Prosecutor Grace Park “as a female minority in law enforcement to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that promotions are based on merit, and strive to be gender and color-blind.”

Read more on this at NJ.com

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