Philadelphia, PA – A Philadelphia police officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the police department alleging he’s being discriminated against for being Italian-American.
The lawsuit alleges that the discrimination began about 10 years ago against Officer Daniel Leone, a 23-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia Magazine reported.
Officer Leone, now 47, said that when he was sent to work as a bike cop in the Center City District, his lieutenant had a bias against people with his ethnic background.
The lawsuit claimed his lieutenant thought “that South Philly Italians are nothing but loud mouths and know-it-alls,” according to Philadelphia Magazine.
In the suit, Officer Leone claimed he brought in homemade wine as Christmas gifts for some of his colleagues in 2014 and that some of the other officers referred to it as “dago wine.”
He complained that he asked the officer not to use that word and the officer used it over and over again anyway.
Officer Leone’s suit said he asked his sergeant to intervene and the official declined to get involved, Philadelphia Magazine reported.
So he went to his sergeant’s supervisor to complain and that police official informed him that “white people can’t make complaints about discrimination,” the lawsuit alleged.
The lawsuit said that the use of the ethnic slur toward Officer Leone became a running joke between the officers on his shift.
When an officer asked him if he had any more of the “dago red wine” around Christmas of 2017, Officer Leone tried to complain to a supervisor yet again, according to Philadelphia Magazine.
However, on that occasion the supervisor wouldn’t even acknowledge that the word “dago” was considered a slur, the lawsuit alleged.
Officer Leone continued to take his complaint up the department ladder, and when he met with a lieutenant and the district captain, they suggested he file a complaint with the police department’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
The lawsuit said that he interpreted his captain’s position as “indifferent,” but when he filed a complaint with EAP shortly after the meeting, he started losing lucrative overtime shifts, Philadelphia Magazine reported.
Then he started having regular shift scheduling problems, too.
Officer Leone said his requests to change his schedule were ignored or denied at the same time they were accommodating officers with less time on the job.
“Instead, the optimal shifts were always given to non-Italians with much less experience and seniority than [Leone],” the lawsuit alleged.
Leone’s attorney, Brian Mildenberg, said that Officer Leone’s case can be considered a lesson, according to Philadelphia Magazine.
“This case is a reminder that persons of any race and ethnicity can encounter harassment and discrimination in the workplace,” Mildenberg said. “I am honored to represent this police officer of Italian heritage in protecting his rights against a hostile work environment.”
Interestingly, Officer Leone made headlines back in 2002 when he accused a Puerto Rican officer of threatening him with his gun.
That incident began when Officer Leone made a reference to the other officer as a “stinking Mexican,” Philadelphia Magazine reported.
On the stand, Officer Leone admitted using the slur but said it was just how two cops joked around with each other.
He found himself in trouble yet again in February of 2017 when a comment he made on social media was forwarded to the Internal Affairs division of the Philadelphia PD.
Investigators found that he had made a whole slew of posts about how lucrative it was to work overtime for protests, and a number of other political posts that were concerning because he clearly identified himself as a Philadelphia officer on his Facebook profile. The Philadelphia Voice reported.
The final outcome of the investigation was not made public, according to Philadelphia Magazine.