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Baez v. City of Brockton

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 1, 2017

FRANCISCO BAEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF BROCKTON, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS [Docket No. 37]

          JENNIFER C. BOAL United States Magistrate Judge

         In this action, plaintiff Francisco Baez alleges that the Defendants discriminated against him on account of his race, national origin, and ethnicity in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and M.G.L. c. 151B. Defendants have moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Docket No. 37.[1] For the following reasons, the Court recommends that the District Judge assigned to this case deny the motion.

         I. FACTS[2]

         Baez is a Black, Hispanic male whose parents were born in the Dominican Republic. First Amended Complaint (“AC”) ¶¶ 1, 6. At all relevant times, he was employed as a police officer for the City of Brockton Police Department. Id. at ¶ 1. During his employment with the Brockton Police Department, Baez was the only employee of Dominican Republic ancestry. Id. at ¶ 8.

         Baez alleges that during the time that Baez worked with defendant Sergeant George Khoury, Khoury referred to black people as “niggers” and to Hispanic people as “spics.” Id. at ¶ 9. Khoury also referred to white women who dated black men as “white trash nigger lovers.” Id.

         On September 13, 2013, Baez claims that he was in the booking area as were a number of other officers, including Khoury. Id. at ¶ 10. Baez walked by Khoury but never pushed him, nudged him, or touched him in any way. Id.

         On September 15, 2013, Baez claims that Khoury falsely reported to defendant Chief of Police Emanuel Gomes that, on September 13, 2013, Baez bumped into Khoury and was discourteous to him while in the booking room. Id. at ¶ 11. Khoury also falsely reported that on the same day, Baez passed him in the hallway leading to the cell area and bumped him as he passed. Id. at ¶ 12. Khoury referred to Baez's conduct as an assault. Id. at ¶ 11. Baez alleges that Khoury's false accusations were made because he had animus towards Baez on account of Baez's race, national origin, and/or ethnicity. Id. at ¶ 13.

         On December 13, 2013, as a result of Khoury's false allegation, Baez received a written disciplinary action issued by defendant Captain Wayne Sargo. Id. at ¶ 17. In the letter of reprimand, Sargo wrote that “Sergeant Khoury related that you did willfully bump him twice in the booking area and while he was involved with a ‘Neighborhood Surge' operation.” Id. Captain Sargo reprimanded Baez for conduct unbecoming of an officer and for insubordination. Id.

         Baez alleges that a video of the alleged incident shows that Khoury's allegations were false. Id. at ¶¶ 18, 20, 32. Sargo viewed the video and was aware that Khoury's allegations were false before issuing the letter of reprimand. Id. at ¶¶ 19-21, 23. Sargo's decision to discipline Baez despite his knowledge that Khoury's allegations were false was based on racial, ethnic, and national origin animus against Baez and/or because Sargo condoned the prejudice and discriminatory animus of Khoury. Id. at ¶ 23.

         On or about December 10, 2013, Baez appealed his written disciplinary reprimand to Gomes. Id. at ¶ 24. Gomes was also aware that video existed showing that Khoury's allegations were false. Id. at ¶¶ 25-27. Nevertheless, Gomes upheld the written reprimand. Id. at ¶ 27. Baez alleges that Gomes' decision to uphold the written reprimand “was on account of racial, national origin, and ethnic bias and animus on the part of Chief Gomes and because he was conditioning and acting on the prejudice and discriminatory animus of Sergeant Khoury.” Id. at ¶ 28.

         In an attempt to defend Baez, his union requested the video of the booking area on the date in question. Id. at ¶ 29. The union was told by the Department that no such video existed. Id. In fact, a video did exist. Id. In February 2014, Baez received his personnel record, which contained a copy of the video of the booking area for September 13, 2013. Id. at ¶ 31.

         Baez filed a grievance of Gomes' decision upholding the written reprimand. Id. at ¶ 33. A hearing was held before the City of Brockton Director of Personnel Maureen Cruise. Id. at ¶ 34. The video of the booking area was shown at the hearing. Id. at ¶ 35. Despite the clear video evidence that Khoury's allegations were false, Cruise upheld the written reprimand. Id. at ¶ 36.

         After the Union appealed the written reprimand to an independent arbitrator, the City of Brockton entered into an agreement whereby it agreed to remove the written reprimand from Baez's personnel record and to rescind the discipline issued to Baez. Id. at ¶ 38.

         On September 24, 2014, Baez filed a complaint with Internal Affairs regarding Khoury, Sargo, and Gomes' conduct in connection with Khoury's accusations against Baez and Sargo and Gomes' handling of it. Id. at ΒΆ 39. Neither Khoury, Sargo, nor Gomes were ever ...


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