White Indy Cops Passed Over For Promotions Could Sue In Spite of Prior Consent Decreee

Federal case law summary: Employment discrimination.

Finch v. Peterson. Discrimination

Under 1978 consent decree, Indianapolis Police Department was to ensure that African Americans constitute at least 25% of incoming training classes. It also contained a "long range goal" of "increas[ing] the black composition of the Police and Fire Departments." Consent decree also stated that "[p]romotions shall be based upon relevant standards and criteria which will be applied without regard to race or color." Plaintiff white police officers alleged that they were passed over for promotions due to race. Defendant City moved for summary judgment, asserting that the 1978 consent decree conferred qualified immunity, citing Martinez v. City of St. Louis, 539 F.3d 857 (8th Cir. 2008). In particular, City relied upon the decree's long range goal of increasing number of black officers. However, since the decree specifically prohibited the conduct alleged by plaintiffs, namely, promotion based upon race or color, qualified immunity was unavailable.

No. 09-2676, 622 F.3d 725 (7th Cir. Sept. 10, 2010).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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