Two partners of our firm, Rachel Berlin Benjamin and Ashley Wilson Clark, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a former Rincon, Ga., police officer whose 2019 termination violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suit claims that racial discrimination was behind the firing of Jose Ramirez, the only Hispanic employee in the police department who had served with distinction there for nearly 12 years.
“We believe he was targeted because of his race and national origin,” Benjamin, Buckley Beal senior partner, told the Savannah Morning News. “This is an effort to clear his name, but also give him some justice since he was wrongfully terminated. His name was sort of dragged through the mud during the termination and the unfair appeal hearing that we had.”
Defendant Mark Gerbino, former Rincon Chief of Police, recommended Ramirez’s termination based on insubordination and poor work performance despite zero record of discipline in well over a decade of service. In fact, Ramirez had developed a stellar reputation as a law enforcement officer at RPD and received numerous awards, including the City of Rincon Mayor’s Choice Humanitarian Award in 2010, the City of Rincon Public Safety Humanitarian Award in 2011 and the Most Fabulous Public Safety Officer from 2016 to 2018. In July 2018, Ramirez was asked by Mayor Ken Lee, City Manager John Klimm and City Council member Levi Scott to serve as acting Chief of Police, a position he held from July 2018 through October 2018, when RPD hired Defendant Gerbino as the permanent Chief of Police.
Gerbino had an alleged prior record of accusations of abusive workplace conduct, race discrimination and targeting minorities. He was allegedly allowed to resign from both the Savannah Metropolitan Police Department and the City of Americus Police Department
Mr. Ramirez is requesting a jury trial to be held for racial discrimination and national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. In addition, he is requesting relief for back pay, lost wages and benefits, pay increases, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. Buckley Beal attorneys Benjamin and Clark filed the lawsuit in the Southern District Court of Georgia Savannah Division.
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