By Kevin Hogencamp
Albany police Lt. Bryan LaVoie claims in a federal lawsuit that he was overlooked for a promotion to captain and receives a lower salary than his counterparts because of his race.
LaVoie, 43, is white. He sued the City of Albany, which has a majority black City Commission, black city manager, Alfred Lott, and black police chief, John Proctor.
LaVoie’s suit is filed in U.S. District Court. He is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
The suit isn’t a surprise to city officials, who refused to comment, because LaVoie previously filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which last year issued him a “right to sue” letter at his request.
LaVoie has worked for the department since 1993. In his suit LaVoie claims that he is not alone. “Plaintiff and other white employees have been paid less than their African American counterparts,” he says in the suit.
LaVoie says the damages to him aren’t limited to financial setbacks.
“Plaintiff has suffered emotional distress, mental pain and suffering, past and future pecuniary losses, inconvenience, bodily injury, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and other non-pecuniary, losses, along with lost back and front pay, interest on pay, bonuses, and other benefits,” the suit says.
Specifically, LaVoie’s beef is about the captain’s position he applied for in mid-2009.
“On or about September 25, 2009 a memorandum was issued by the Chief of Police indicating that all of the candidates selected for the position of Captain have been notified,” the suit says. “On or about December 2, 2009, the Chief of Police issued a memorandum announcing the name of the individuals who were selected for the position of Captain. Five of the six individuals who were selected are African American. The only white individual selected for Captain was an external candidate.
“Plaintiff has been denied promotions while less experienced African Americans have been promoted over him. At all relevant times, Plaintiff’s qualifications exceeded the qualifications of those who were selected for promotion to Captain.”
LaVoie, who is demanding a jury trial, is represented by Tallahassee attorney David G. Sullivan of Solomon, Sullivan, Romo, & Durrett.
The city government is liable for differential treatment toward LaVoie, the lawsuit says, “because it controlled the actions and inactions of the persons making decisions affecting Plaintiff or it knew or should have known of these actions and inactions and failed to take prompt and adequate remedial action or took no action at all to prevent the abuses to Plaintiff,” the lawsuit further says. “Furthermore, Defendant knowingly condoned and ratified the differential treatment of Plaintiff as more fully set forth above because it
allowed the differential treatment and participated in same. Defendant’s known allowance and ratification of these actions and inactions actions created, perpetuated, and facilitated an abusive and offensive work environment within the meaning of the statutes referenced above.
“In essence, the actions of agents of Defendant, which were each condoned and
ratified by Defendant, were of a race-based nature and in violation of the laws set forth herein.”