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Howlett v. City of Warren

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 16, 2019

DESHEILA HOWLETT, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF WARREN, LAWRENCE GARDNER, SHAWN JOHNSON, DAWN MCLANE, MICHAEL SAUGER, ANWAR KHAN, JERE GREEN, DARRIN LABIN, WILLIAM ROSS, KEVIN BARNHILL, PAUL HOUTOS, SCOTT TAYLOR, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND DISMISSING CERTAIN INDIVIDUAL DEFENDANTS

          TERRENCE G. BERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         In 2006, DeSheila Howlett became the first African-American ever hired as a police officer for the City of Warren, and she remained the only black officer in the Warren Police Department until she left her position in 2017. Now the Plaintiff in this civil action, Howlett alleges that throughout her employment with the Warren Police Department she endured racial and sex-related discrimination, abuse, and harassment by fellow officers, supervisors and employees in the Department. She alleges that she was the victim of a racially and sexually hostile work environment and that the City of Warren violated her civil rights by failing to provide adequate training to prevent the injuries she allegedly incurred. Defendants include the City of Warren, as well as several individually-named defendants. The individually-named defendants include police officers for the City of Warren, the then-Police Commissioner, and a member of the support staff for the Warren Police Department.

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 4) alleges six counts:

Count I: Discrimination Based on Race and Gender-Hostile Work Environment (pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.)
Count II: Violation of Fourteenth Amendment right to Equal Protection (pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983)
Count III: Violation of Fourteenth Amendment right to Due Process (pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983)
Count IV: City of Warren Monell Liability (pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983)
Count V: Conspiracy Invidious Racial Animus (pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985)
Count VI: Violation of the Right to Make and Enforce Contracts (pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981).

         Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on all counts. ECF No. 66. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Count IV (Monell liability) only. ECF No. 69. Both parties filed oppositions. ECF Nos. 70 (Plaintiff's Response) & 74 (Defendants' Response). The Court held a hearing on June 12, 2019. See June 12, 2019 Minute Entry.

         At the hearing, Plaintiff agreed to voluntarily dismiss the following individual defendants: Scott Taylor, Paul Houtos, Kevin Barnhill, William Ross, Darrin Labin, and Dawn McLane. Barbara Beyer was previously dismissed by a stipulated order. ECF No. 21. Plaintiff also agreed that Arthur Gill, though mentioned in the body of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, was neither named in the caption as a defendant nor served in the lawsuit and therefore should not properly be considered a defendant. See Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, ECF No. 4, PageID.52. Additionally, Michael Sauger was named in the initial complaint (ECF No. 1), but his name was not included among the defendants in the Amended Complaint. As such, Michael Sauger is not an individual defendant in this case. After these voluntary dismissals, the remaining defendants are the City of Warren and four individual defendants: Jere Green, Lawrence Gardner, Shawn Johnson, and Anwar Khan.

         For the reasons outlined below, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment will be DENIED as to Count I, (Discrimination Based on Race and Gender-Hostile Work Environment-Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.), DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART as to Count II (Violation of Fourteenth Amendment right to Equal Protection-42 U.S.C. § 1983), DENIED as to Count IV (City of Warren Monell Liability-42 U.S.C. § 1983), but GRANTED as to Count III (Fourteenth Amendment Due Process-42 U.S.C. § 1983), Count V (Civil Rights Conspiracy-42 U.S.C. § 1985) and Count VI (Violation of Right to Make Contracts-42 U.S.C. § 1981). Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to Count IV will be DENIED.

         II. Background

         The extensive record in this case consists of numerous depositions and records gathered during the discovery process. This summary draws upon the evidence from that record as it relates to the allegations in the Amended Complaint, which are essentially that Plaintiff endured extensive racial and sexual harassment during her 11-year employment with the Warren Police Department. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, ECF No. 4, PageID.50.

         Significantly, Howlett alleges that this harassment occurred in part due to “customs, practices and policies of unlawful racial and sexual discrimination” that exist in the City of Warren and its municipal departments. Id. Because this allegation is key to Count IV of the complaint, seeking to impose Monell liability on the City of Warren, as well as Count I of the complaint, alleging the City of Warren created a hostile work environment, the Court will discuss the historical precedents cited by Plaintiff. As an example of this alleged longstanding culture, Howlett cites a 1986 lawsuit against the City of Warren brought by the United States Department of Justice, which alleged that the City's hiring practices illegally discriminated against African American applicants to police and fire department positions, and that the City failed to eliminate the effects of these discriminatory practices in job recruitment. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 69, PageID.6077; see also United States v. City of Warren, 138 F.3d 1083, 1088-90 (6th Cir. 1998). In that litigation, the court found Warren's “residency requirement” for municipal positions had a disparate impact on African American applications to police and fire positions. See City of Warren, 138 F.3d at 1088-89; ECF No. 69, PageID.6077-78. The City of Warren agreed to address the problem by providing equal employment opportunity training to the police and fire departments. ECF No. 69, PageID.6077.

         In 1991, the United States again sued the City of Warren for its hiring practices, alleging that the City failed to correct the issue in its police and fire departments, and that the problem had spread to other departments. ECF No. 69, PageID.6077-78 (citing United States v. City of Warren, 138 F.3d 1083 (6th Cir. 1998)). The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the City of Warren's recruitment practices for all municipal positions had a disparate impact on African American applicants. City of Warren, 138 F.3d at 1094. In response, the City entered into a formal agreement with the United States in which it agreed to provide equal employment opportunity hiring for department heads and supervisors of municipal departments, as well as other training and recruitment measures. 2002 Agreement and Order, ECF No. 69-4, PageID.6156-57.

         On August 10, 2006, fifteen years after the federal government sued over the City of Warren's discriminatory hiring practices, the Warren Police Department hired DeSheila Howlett as its first African American police officer. ECF No. 69, PageID.6078. Howlett worked as a police officer for the Warren Police Department for the next 11 years. ECF No. 4, PageID.49.

         Howlett asserts she began experiencing harassment and discrimination almost immediately. Id. at PageID.50. When Howlett was first hired into the department, like all new officers, she had to complete “field training”[1] before she was permitted to work as a patrol officer on her own. See Khan Deposition, ECF No. 66-13, PageID.4208. During this training, one of her Field Training Officers, William Ross, allegedly told her she would pass her training regardless of her performance because she was black. ECF No. 4, PageID.51. Officer Ross denies he ever made this statement. See Ross Deposition, ECF No. 66-17, PageID.4281.

         Howlett also alleges that a different Field Training Officer, Anwar Khan, told her that women do not have a right to work or be police officers. ECF No. 4, Page ID.51. Plaintiff also alleges that Khan said, “America was better off prior to 1940, 1941, when all the men went off to war and then the women started working jobs, and basically, our society declined due to the women entering the workforce, so now there's nobody to tend to the children.” Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3724.

         Khan failed Plaintiff at Phase III of field training, forcing her to retake the phase. Plaintiff claims he failed her without justification, because she was a woman. ECF No. 4, PageID.51. The City denies that Plaintiff was failed without justification and claims she was failed for deficiencies in her job performance. ECF No. 66, PageID.3675. The City claimed at the hearing that Plaintiff then retook the course under Khan, who ultimately passed her. Plaintiff denied this, saying that she retook the course under a different Field Training Officer. Khan admitted in his deposition that Howlett was later passed by a different officer. ECF No. 66-13, PageID.4219.

         Plaintiff also reports that much later in her career Khan pulled Howlett over in 2016 while she was driving to a crime scene in an unmarked car. Khan Deposition, ECF No. 66-13, PageID.4217. Plaintiff claims Khan falsely alleged that she was “driving recklessly” and she attempted to file a complaint against Khan, but her supervisor, Sergeant Eidt, did not appear to take the complaint seriously. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3730. At the time, Howlett was a Detective Sergeant, outranking Khan. ECF No. 4, PageID.52-53. Plaintiff alleges this was further evidence of Khan's animus against her based on her sex. Khan claims that Plaintiff was speeding in an unmarked car, and that after he pulled her over he simply advised her to slow down. ECF No. 66-13, PageID.4217-18. Khan claims that Plaintiff told him she was late for a meeting but did not mention that she was responding to a report of criminal sexual conduct. ECF No. 66-13, PageID.4217-18; PageID.4232; PageID.4237. Khan also testified that he did not give her a ticket, but he did report the incident to her supervisor. ECF No. 66-13, PageID.4236- 37. Khan explained that he believed informing her supervisor was the same thing as “documenting” the incident. ECF No. 66-13, PageID.4236- 37.

         Howlett further alleges that Sergeant Scott Taylor-who trained Plaintiff during the first phase of field training-told her that after she had received five complaints from African American citizens, she would be nominated for a “hood award.” ECF No. 4, PageID.56. Plaintiff interpreted this comment to be a reference to the white sheet and hood traditionally associated with the Ku Klux Klan. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 69-10, PageID.6344. In Taylor's deposition, Plaintiff's counsel misquoted the allegation from the Amended Complaint, asking Taylor if he remembered telling Howlett she would receive a “KKK award, ” rather than a “hood award”. ECF No. 66-16, PageID.4276. As a result, while Taylor firmly denied referring to any “KKK award, ” he was never asked to comment on the “hood award” allegation. ECF No. 66-16, PageID.4276.

         Plaintiff also alleges that Officers Paul Kelly and Dale Malesh repeatedly asked Plaintiff out on dates using “extreme sexual overtones.” ECF No. 4, PageID.52. However, Plaintiff did not specify what “extreme sexual overtones” means in this context, nor how many times either Kelly or Malesh allegedly asked her out using such language. Plaintiff also failed to identify any particular occasion or specific date on which one of these interactions took place.

         Further, Howlett alleges that, because of her race, the police department routinely failed to provide backup when she was responding to official police calls. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3738. She alleges dispatch failed to send her backup-or failed to send backup as quickly as was the standard for other officers-on 45 different occasions in 2007, and 43 occasions in 2013. ECF No. 69, PageID.6093.

         Plaintiff cites to numerous specific pages of Warren Police Department Dispatch Records from 2007 and 2013. ECF No. 69, PageID.6093 n.40; Exhibit 6: Backup Chart, ECF No. 69-7; Exhibit 12: 2007 Dispatch Records, ECF No. 83 (*sealed*). Plaintiff alleges that these records show the Warren Police Department failing to provide backup in a timely or safe manner-or at all-on 45 and 43 occasions, respectively. Unfortunately, these records are not self-explanatory, and no witness appears to have been shown these documents to explain or authenticate them during deposition testimony. Defendants also filed similar dispatch records[2]as an attachment to their response to Plaintiff's motion, and they included a document called “Key Codes” that includes explanations for some-but not all-of the fields in the record. See Exhibit 32: Key Codes, ECF No. 77, PageID.8578-80 (*sealed*); Exhibits 32-1-32-44: Dispatch Records, ECF No. 77, PageID.8581-8747 (*sealed*). This document likewise lacks explanation and is somewhat inscrutable. The parties appear willing to leave it to the Court to decipher the meaning of various unexplained acronyms and police lingo-but the Court cannot speculate as to the meaning of records that are not clear on their face.

         Plaintiff does not present logs for the years 2014-17. However, she asserts it was well known in the department that she did not receive adequate backup. ECF No. 4, PageID.54. She states that her partner, then-patrol officer Brent Chisholm, at one time told her that some co-workers told him to be careful because being partnered with Howlett meant he would not receive adequate backup. ECF No. 4, PageID.54. She states Chisholm was told by other officers that he should be worried. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3744. She also alleges that in 2015, while en route on a call with Chisholm, backup was so delayed that Chisholm had to request backup on his personal cellphone. Howlett Affidavit, ECF No. 69-8, PageID.6263. Chisholm denies being warned by other officers to be concerned for his safety when working with Howlett. Chisholm Deposition, ECF No. 66-27, PageID.4520-21. He testified that he was never fearful working with Howlett and believed that Howlett received adequate backup. Id. The City denies Howlett failed to receive proper backup and claims she was never in danger. Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, ECF No. 74, PageID.7517; Bradley Affidavit, ECF No. 74-5, PageID.7586.

         The City alleges Howlett admitted that no one told her directly that she was not being given backup, and that she never heard anyone tell Chisholm his life was in danger. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 66, PageID.3681. Howlett identified several individuals whom she believed could corroborate her allegation, but when asked, most of these witnesses either denied her allegation or stated that they thought it was untrue. See Howlett Affidavit, ECF No. 69-8 (identifying Officer Nichols, Officer Booton, Officer Scott, Dispatcher Broach, and Corporal Chisolm as having personal knowledge of her backup allegation); see also Nichols Deposition, ECF No. 69-9, PageID.6317 (claiming Howlett never mentioned it to him); Scott Deposition, ECF No. 69-32, PageID.6883 (“I would not know [whether or not she had problems getting adequate timely backup.]”); Chisolm Deposition, ECF No. 69-16, PageID.6487 (“I don't believe [Howlett] didn't get adequate backup.”). One witness, Dispatcher Broach, did confirm that Howlett voiced her concerns about backup. Broach Deposition, ECF No. 69-28, PageID.6798 (“[Howlett] says, ‘I don't think the officers are backing me up as fast as they should,' but we did not go any further in the conversation[.]”). Broach stated that she did not report Howlett's concern and did not know whether she had a responsibility to report it. Id. She did, however, state that she never told Howlett she personally believed officers were late responding to her calls for backup. Broach Affidavit, ECF No. 74-6, PageID.7591.

         At some point in 2010 or 2011, [3] Howlett complained to the then-Labor Relations Manager for the City of Warren, Mark Simlar, [4] about a dispatcher, Dawn McLane, who allegedly failed to provide Howlett with the physical description of an armed suspect while she was responding to a run, even after Howlett asked repeatedly. Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, ECF No. 69, PageID.6092; Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3726. Howlett alleges that Police Commissioner Jere Green and Deputy Commissioner Louis Galasso interviewed How-lett about her complaint against McLane, but that they never spoke with McLane. ECF 69, PageID.6092. In her deposition, McLane confirms How-lett's allegation that the complaint was never addressed with her. ECF No. 69-25, PageID.6663. An internal affairs complaint form also establishes that Howlett was interviewed by Green, Galasso, and Simlar in 2013 about an incident involving McLane and that no discipline was recommended because the issue had been “resolved at intake.” See ECF No. 66-19. However, Green testified that he has no recollection of this event, and Deputy Commissioner Galasso was not asked about it during his deposition. Green Deposition, ECF No. 66-10, PageID.4179-80; Galasso Deposition, ECF No. 69-21. The City alleges the complaint was unfounded because there was no description of the suspect to give and How-lett conceded in her deposition that she did not believe McLane withheld the information because of her race or gender but rather due to a “personality conflict.” ECF No. 66, PageID.3699; Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID3726.

         In 2011, Howlett was injured in an off-duty incident. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3732. She alleges she requested to be reassigned to light-duty work while she recovered but was denied that opportunity. Id. The City responds that preference for light-duty reassignment is given to on-duty injuries, and that they did not have any light-duty positions available at that time, so Howlett would have to remain off duty until she recovered and could work full-time. Id. Howlett alleges that though the policy lists a preference for injuries occurred in on-duty accidents, in practice it is not applied in this way as several of her fellow officers had been allowed light-duty assignments even when they were injured off-duty. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3732-34. She believes she was denied a light-duty reassignment because she is African American. Howlett Dep. ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3734. Ultimately, Howlett returned to full-time work a month later than anticipated because she was denied light-duty assignment. Howlett Dep. ECF No. 69-10, PageID.6356.

         Howlett further alleges being harassed by various co-workers in the department on different occasions throughout her career. She says coworker Kevin Barnhill routinely spoke to her in an offensive fashion, mocking her and using stereotypical depictions of African Americans. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, ECF No. 4, PageID.51; Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3734. The City alleges that Howlett and Barnhill had a friendly relationship, and that when she asked him to stop making offensive comments, he did. ECF No. 66, PageID.3677.

         Howlett alleges another co-worker, Roland Bell, asked her why she was walking “gingerly” after having a minor procedure, and despite her having provided him with an explanation, Bell said “No, it's because of all that big black dick in you.” ECF No. 4, PageID.52. Bell denies this allegation and claims that the two got along very well. Bell Deposition, ECF No. 66-25, PageID.4466 (“Never made that comment.”); ECF No. 66, PageID.3680. Howlett also alleges that Khan and Officer Darrin Laban approached Officer Nichols asking him if he and Howlett were engaged in a sexual relationship. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3730-31. In response, the City claimed that Howlett admitted Laban did not engage in any harassment and that she never complained about Khan or Laban asking this question. ECF No. 66, PageID.3676. Howlett alleges former Sergeant Arthur Gill, a superior to Howlett at the time, removed her from the day shift and replaced her with a white officer even though she had higher seniority than the white officer. ECF No. 4, PageID.52. The City has not responded directly to this allegation. And Plaintiff also alleges that an “Officer Dean” allegedly asked her how much education she has, so he “would know how to speak with her.” ECF No. 4, PageID.56. It is not clear whether Plaintiff believes this comment was derogatory of her race, her sex, or both.

         At the end of March 2015, Howlett began working as a Detective in the Special Victims Department where she worked with four other Detectives, including Shawn Johnson. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-2, PageID.3753; Eidt Deposition, ECF No. 69-22, PageID.6581; Johnson Deposition, ECF No. 69-15, PageID.6430. Sergeant Robert Eidt, the supervisor for this department, assigned Detective Shawn Johnson to assist Howlett in becoming acquainted with the department. Johnson Deposi- tion, ECF No. 69-15, PageID.6430. Howlett alleges Johnson sexually harassed her, including suggesting she was his “slave girl”, sniffing her suggestively, and rubbing his hands through her hair. ECF No. 4, PageID.54; Howlett Dep. ECF No. 69-10, PageID.6377. Johnson acknowledges that he sniffed Howlett, but claims she was wearing a new perfume and he simply smelled the perfume and wanted to compliment her on it. Johnson Deposition, ECF No. 69-15, PageID.6438. He also denies rubbing his hands through her hair and claims he never touched her. ECF No. 69-15, PageID.6439.

         Howlett also alleges Johnson made racist remarks toward her, including comparing her to the gorilla depicted on the label for “Gorilla Glue” and making derogatory comments about the foods Howlett brought for lunch, insinuating they were stereotypically African American. ECF No. 4, PageID.55; see, e.g., Johnson Deposition, ECF No. 69-15, PageID.6436-37 (chicken and ribs), PageID.6439 (“Atlanta” comment), PageID.6446 (color coordinated clothing), PageID.6450-51 (stealing accusation and “slave” comment). In his deposition, Johnson claims he did not intend to liken Howlett to the image on the “Gorilla Glue label”, but simply suggested she use “Gorilla Glue” to fix a clock on her desk that was broken. ECF No. 69-15, PageID.6434. Johnson also claims his comments about the food Howlett brought for lunch were meant to be friendly comments about food generally. ECF No. 69-15, PageID.6437. He claims the two spoke often about cooking and what food they each cooked at home. Id. Howlett also alleges Johnson frequently suggested she was stealing items from his desk.[5] ECF No. 4, PageID.55. Johnson claims he was only joking when he made these comments. ECF 69-15, PageID.6449.

         Detective Johnson recounted an occasion during which Plaintiff discussed how her father's dog liked to sleep under the bed, and when she tried to get the dog out from under the bed, it bit her. ECF No. 66-20, PageID.4323. In response, Detective Johnson made a comment along the lines of, “Oh, he likes to be under there because of all the action that's going on, ” an apparent reference to sexual activity occurring in Plaintiff's father's bed.[6] Detective Johnson testified that this type of statement could be sexually harassing or demeaning, but repeatedly defended his actions as lacking any intent to harass, and said that he thought his various comments were acceptable repartee between co-workers who had a friendly rapport. ECF No. 66-20, PageID.4323-25.

         At a retirement party for Officer Galasso in 2015, Plaintiff told Kathy Miller (now a retired detective) about Detective Johnson's continuing behavior toward her. ECF No. 69-10, PageID.6378. Sometime thereafter, Plaintiff was contacted by Sergeant Eidt, who informed her “that [Kathy Miller] had gone over to City Hall and filed a third-party complaint” on behalf of Plaintiff. ECF No. 69-10, PageID.6378. Sergeant Eidt launched an investigation and discovered that not only did Johnson make some of these offensive remarks, but that three other detectives heard them and failed to report the incidents. ECF No.69-22, PageID.6597; ECF No. 69, PageID.6088-89. At the end of the investigation, Johnson took responsibility for his behavior and Howlett's formal complaint-that Johnson racially harassed Howlett-was sustained. Johnson Deposition, ECF No. 69-15, PageID.6432. The department took disciplinary action against Johnson, issuing a warning and placing a written note of discipline in his file, which was to be removed after one year if there were no further incidents. ECF No. 69, PageID.6089. Johnson was moved out of the Special Victims Department to the Criminal Investigations Division and was required to attend diversity training. ECF No. 69-15, PageID.6460. Even though the complaint was sustained in 2015 and the training was intended to be a curative part of his punishment, Johnson did not receive any diversity training until 2017, after Howlett left the department because of her claims of mistreatment. ECF No. 69-15, PageID.6460. Notably, Johnson attested that, “I would tell you that after having to go through this and having talked to Mr. Murray [his trainer] that my behavior and comments that I would make now has drastically changed.” ECF No. 66-20, PageID.4341 (referring to the 2017 training). The City provides no explanation for why two years elapsed before Johnson received the training required by his discipline.

         In 2016, Howlett was given a promotion requiring her to work in the same division as Johnson once again, after he had been moved in 2015. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 69-10, PageID.6379. Howlett claims that before accepting the position she asked whether she could continue working in a different physical office from Johnson because of their past. Id. She claims Sergeant Eidt and Sergeant Mills assured her she could. Id. However, two weeks later, Lieutenant Lawrence Garner, the supervisor at the time, moved Howlett to the same side of the office with Johnson. Id. Garner had allegedly asked Howlett if the problems with Johnson were still ongoing, and even though Howlett indicated they were continuing, Garner moved her to Johnson's side of the office. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 69-10, PageID.6383. Howlett alleges that from October to December 2016, while working near each other again, Johnson would glare at her, holler at her, and refuse to share work. ECF No. 69, PageID.6079; Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 66-10, PageID.6383. Police Commissioner Green testified that Howlett was only moved back into the same area as Johnson because the office was being renovated and there was nowhere else for her to sit. Green Deposition, ECF No. 66-10, PageID.4186.

         Howlett also alleges that her co-workers used the “n-word” in her presence and in the presence of other white officers during her time with the Warren Police Department. ECF No. 4, PageID.56; ECF No. 69, PageID.6087. In depositions, two Warren Police Department employees-one a police officer-indicated they were unfamiliar with the history of the “n-word” and did not know it was considered particularly offensive or inappropriate. Beyer Deposition, ECF No. 66-24, PageID.6644, Laban Deposition, ECF No. 69-29, PageID.6833. Officer Laban also testified he believed there were situations in which it was okay for him to use the “n-word”; for example, if it were in a song or movie. Laban Deposition, ECF No. 69-29, PageID.6832.

         In one incident, on February 1, 2017, Special Victims Department Secretary Barbara Beyer, in a conversation with Howlett, used the “n-word” word to refer to an African American man. ECF No. 69, PageID.6089; Beyer Deposition, ECF No. 66-24, PageID.6644. Beyer admits she used the words “that nigger” to refer to the African American man. Beyer Deposition, ECF No. 66-24, PageID.6644. Immediately after hearing Beyer's comment, Howlett reported the incident to her supervisor, Sergeant Mills. Mills Deposition, ECF No. 69-23, PageID.6623. Sergeant Mills notified Lieutenant Gardner and Commissioner Green and the three then met with Howlett. Id. at PageID.6625. Mills also informed Sergeant Eidt, Beyer's supervisor, of the incident. Howlett Deposition, ECF No. 69-10, PageID.6380. After the meeting with Mills, Gardner, and Green, Howlett met with Mark Simlar. ECF No. 69-23, PageID.6626. On route to the meeting with Simlar, Howlett called Matt Nichols, the Deputy Commissioner, and recounted to him the event with Beyer and the other incidents that had occurred over the previous 11 years. ECF No. 69-10, PageID.6380. Howlett stated that during her meeting with Simlar, he got very emotional and stated that he believed that racism and sexism were “institutional” issues within the police department. Id. at PageID.6388. Simlar was questioned about this exchange, and based on what he heard from Howlett, he agreed that the situation appeared to be “institutional.” Simlar Deposition, ECF No. 69-6, PageID.6250 (“At the time she was describing it to me, she made it sound like it was institutional, yes.”).

         Beyer admitted to making the comment. She received a 10-day suspension and was required to watch diversity-related videos. ECF No. 69, PageID.6090. In her deposition, Beyer acknowledges she used the “n-word”, but did not believe it was inappropriate to do so:

Q: Well, you know “nigger” was one of the words you used right? “That nigger”, right, you said that right?
A: Right
Q: And you said that to Ms. Howlett in her face, cor- rect?
A: Yes.
Q: Knowing, knowing that you were saying that to her, correct?
A: Yes.
Q: Okay, and you felt that was okay, correct?
A: Yes.
Q: Okay, why did you feel that was okay?
A: Because we were friends. I thought I could vent.

ECF No. 69-24, PageID.6644. Beyer claimed she does not see her use of the “n-word” in that context to be a form of racial harassment. ECF No. 69-24, PageID.6645. Howlett alleges this incident with Beyer was the final push that sent her into a nervous breakdown, preventing her from returning to work as a police officer. ECF No. 69-10, PageID.6380-81. Howlett stopped working for the Warren Police Department immediately after this incident. ECF No. 69, PageID.6089.

         Howlett alleges the City of Warren allowed this hostile work environment to exist because it did not provide adequate diversity training to police officers within the department. ECF No. 4, PageID.69. The City alleges the Police Department held various training sessions for its employees on the topic of diversity, pointing to the following sessions as proof:

• “Cultural Diversity with course objectives on Racial Profiling and Cultural Awareness” (2005), [7]
• “Cultural Diversity from outside expert Kretzschmar” (2006),
• “Cultural Diversity from outside expert Nehr” (2007),
• “Operational Spanish for Police Officers and Employee Assistance/Care Worklife Solutions” (2008),
• “Cultural Awareness by Chaplain Friedman” (2009),
• “Hmong American Community and Diabetic Emergencies&rdq ...

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