Court rules in favor of five Cleveland EMS Captains who claimed discrimination against their boss

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 7:33 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND (WOIO) - Five Black Cleveland EMS Captains have the right to sue the City of Cleveland after they allege their boss broke up all-black shifts but did not do the same to all-white shifts, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

Three federal appeals judges agreed the actions of EMS Commissioner Nicole Carlton warranted a racial discrimination case under both federal and state law.

“What they’ve said here is, ‘we’re no longer going to stand for discrimination in the workplace,’” said attorney Jared Klebanow, who represents the EMS workers.

Part of the record before the federal appeals court contained Carleton’s concession that the differentials on shift changes were racial.

Carlton admitted under oath that she required Black Captains to face a shift change when the shift was all Black when “there’s never been a change made when there’s an all Caucasian shift, to make it a not all Caucasian shift.”

In legal filings obtained by 19 News, the City argued the move was justified.

“Her intent clearly was to diversify the assignment of captains to be reflective of the City’s general population,” the defense said.

The unanimous decision made by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will send the case back to the U.S. District Court for Northern Ohio in Cleveland

“We have gotten the opinion and are still evaluating it,” a city spokesperson told 19 News on Tuesday. ”We are unable to comment further.”

Klebanow suggested to 19 News on Tuesday that the case never should have even made it to court, to begin with.

“This should absolutely have been addressed and the City of Cleveland, all the way up to Mayor [Frank] Jackson and said, “we don’t stand for this.’”

The allegations were first brought to light in a federal filing in September of 2019. A district judge ruled in favor of the city in October of 2020.

The appeal was heard in June of this year; the three-judge panel’s opinion was released on Monday.

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