WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - An arbitrator determined that the city of Warrensville Heights was justified in dismissing Nakia Jones, a former police officer who alleged that her termination was racially-biased.
Arbitrator Robert G. Stein noted that Warrensville Heights "justifiably lost confidence in the grievant’s ability to perform satisfactorily for the department based on her recognized multiple fraudulent attendance violations.”
Jones filed suit in March 2018 on claims of racial discrimination while with the city’s department and on allegations of retaliation for posting an opinionated social media video about two officer-involved shootings.
In the video, Jones described her views on the death of Alton Sterling, an African-American man who was shot during a struggle with two white police officers. The video went viral with more than 8 million views. She also commented on a similar shooting involving an African-American man in Minnesota.
In response to the video, Jones was invited to sit in on a televised panel with then-President Barack Obama to discuss race-related issues. She says her co-workers at the Warrensville Heights Police Department became “irate” and refused to speak with her because of the TV appearance and viral video.
**WARNING: The federal lawsuit contains profanity**
On May 28, 2017, Jones was involved in an automobile crash while on duty. She was granted medical leave due to her injuries until Nov. 2017. A separate evaluation in September from the city of Warrensville Heights found her fit to work and disputed her request for medical leave.
On Oct. 16, 2017, Jones was issued a warning for attending public speaking engagements while on sick leave, a violation of the city's policies, according to the lawsuit.
She was fired from the department on Oct. 20, 2017, for deceptive use of her sick leave, but Jones claims her termination was motivated by “continuous engagement in constitutionally protected speech” and “gender-based disparate treatment in the workplace.”
Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers released a statement after a ruling was reached by Arbitrator Stein:
The arbitrator also noted in the ruling that Jones seemingly failed to demonstrate accountability or remorse for the “repeated incidents of unacceptable conduct.”