Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Government Social Networks News

Online Forum Leads To Hostile Workplace Lawsuit 330

Posted by Soulskill
from the freedom-to-be-jerks dept.
Tiger4 writes "A group of black Philadelphia police officers have filed a lawsuit against the police department and the city, alleging a hostile work environment due to a private website popular with police. Their story has received wide coverage. From CNN: 'The suit alleges white officers post on and moderate the privately operated site, Domelights.com, both on and off the job. Domelights' users "often joke about the racially offensive commentary on the site ... or will mention them in front of black police officers," thus creating "a racially hostile work environment," according to lawyers for the all-black Guardian Civic League, the lead plaintiff in the suit.' The site appears to be owned and operated by a member of the police force, but it is not funded or operated by the city. Management clearly knows it exists; it is possible police force members access it on the job, and the suit says some of them reference it on the job. Individual police force members have a right to their own opinions, but management has a responsibility to enforce the law fairly and equitably across the city and among their own workforce. What is the solution here?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Online Forum Leads To Hostile Workplace Lawsuit

Comments Filter:
  • Racist cops..... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pablo_max (626328) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:35PM (#28741513)

    And racist cops are news because??? Also, how is this tech news other than the fact that someone used the internet?

    • Re:Racist cops..... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2009 @01:12PM (#28741785)

      If you get into the actual facts of the story it is clear, though the summary didn't really touch on it.

      At it's heart it's a question of whether a person that runs a bulletin board is responsible for what posters post, a subject of frequent commentary on slashdot.

      In point of fact, it would be like calling Commander Taco a racist homophobe because of all the troll spam that's gotten posted here over the years.

    • by sorak (246725)

      Exactly. If this were cops watching 'Amos & Andy" and making "Mammy" references on duty, it would be no different.

    • by Duradin (1261418) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @01:23PM (#28741887)

      "And racist cops are news because??? Also, how is this tech news other than the fact that someone used the internet?"

      The moral of the story is that "the all-black Guardian Civic League" is A-OK.

      If it was a forum of all minority officers, and they were doing the same thing to all the crackers and honkies (ie, being racist against whites) anyone complaining about it would just be "the man" and "trying to keep them down" and violating their civil rights.

      It's like where I went to school. There was a black student union, a black choir and a black homecoming (run in parallel with the normal one) with their own black king and queen. "The man" didn't make these groups to segregate the whites and the blacks, the black students themselves made these organizations. Unfortunately we couldn't ever get anyone brave enough or stupid enough to try to make the white student union, choir, and homecoming.

      • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @01:34PM (#28741959)
        Sir! I will have you know that I am neither a Cracker nor a Honky! I am a Jive Turkey and proud of it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rainsford (803085)
        You would have a point if black people and white people (or any minority group and white people) were treated equally and fairly in our nation, or if they had the exact same experiences and cultural "needs". But simply proclaiming that "color doesn't matter any more" doesn't make it so, and suggesting that black people don't need "black groups" because WHITE people don't need "white groups" is comparing apples and oranges. You want to know where the groups pushing white advancement are? Look no further t
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sayfawa (1099071)
        "If it was a forum of all minority officers, and they were doing the same thing to all the crackers and honkies (ie, being racist against whites) anyone complaining about it would just be "the man" and "trying to keep them down" and violating their civil rights."

        And you know this, how? Citation needed.

        "It's like where I went to school. There was a black student union, a black choir and a black homecoming (run in parallel with the normal one) with their own black king and queen. "The man" didn't make the
    • by tuxgeek (872962)

      Agreed, this is hardly tech news.
      The simple fact of the matter here is that racism is an outward expression of ignorance by an individual. People are people regardless of skin color. We all eat, sleep, and shit each and everyday from the day we're born until we die. Some contribute to the community to make life better for all, but most are worthless uneducated meat sacks.

      Cops on the other hand are no better than anyone else, although they like to think they are 'special'. Most are assholes with little dick

  • by sandmtyh (560543) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:39PM (#28741543)
    starting a lawsuit is the best way to get people to drag their feet when responding to an officer down call.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rainsford (803085)
      It's also probably not a good idea to make racially bigoted comments to your fellow officers, but that doesn't seem to have stopped the white cops...
    • What would you suggest they do?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Abcd1234 (188840)

      Wait wait... so a black cop should turn a blind eye to racism in the work place because, otherwise, he may be *risking his life*?? Wow... apparently law enforcement is an even more corrupt, disgusting place than I ever imagined.

  • Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dread_ed (260158) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:39PM (#28741545) Homepage

    Private ownership is private and government ownership is government. Sounds like a simple case of plantiffs going after the deepest pockets and those most easily controlled through political and media manipulation.

    • by schon (31600)

      Private ownership is private and government ownership is government. Sounds like a simple case of plantiffs going after the deepest pockets and those most easily controlled through political and media manipulation.

      And what happens when government employees bring "private ownership" to work in a racist attitude?

      Oh yeah, you don't want to address the actual issue here, just quote one small piece and dismiss it entirely.

      • by WiiVault (1039946)
        There is no evidence that they used the site at work. Unless I missed something.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by AKAImBatman (238306) *

          FTFA: "The suit alleges white officers post on and moderate the privately operated site, Domelights.com, both on and off the job."

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by c_forq (924234)
            Note what the parent to your comment said, evidence. I can allegations are not evidence.
            • by D'Sphitz (699604)
              What does it matter, anyway? I use slashdot from work, and there are certainly racist pricks around here. Should my employer be open to a lawsuit because of racist trolls at slashdot?
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            FTFA: "The suit alleges white officers post on and moderate the privately operated site, Domelights.com, both on and off the job."

            Until our political & judicial system is as bad as it was in Soviet Russia or as bad as it seems Europe is getting, allegations do not equal evidence. The GP specifically said they gave no evidence, and you just backed him up with your quote from the article.

            It's a real dangerous world when allegations are considered proof.

            For my personal opinion, these people are entitled to host and discuss their personal website at work. Depending on the internet usage policies governing what websites they can or c

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by WiiVault (1039946)
              Reading your post I thought of an interesting situation. Since the site is obviously not overtly racist, is it against the rules for an officer to read any site that might contain racist material in the comments? If so Slashdot would be banned from tons of work places. Being a member of a site that has a few racist assholes, does not make you one of them. On the other hand, participation during work in these discussions ought to be punished. If it can be proven of course.
          • by WiiVault (1039946)
            Did you even read what I said? Evidence- as in is there anything to show/prove that they did this from work? I mean the plaintiff putting it in their complaint is hardly evidence, and I somehow doubt they have access to the police internet logs. Thus I think you like many people here have jumped to a conclusion based on the trust of lawyers who are too stupid to even know the difference between government owned and private ownership.
            • Evidence is presented in courtrooms, not to journalists. Saying, "there's no evidence" is basically a fancy way of saying, "the court has not yet heard the case".

              For now we have allegations. They will be proven or disproven in court.

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        "And what happens when government employees bring "private ownership" to work in a racist attitude?"

        I'm not sure what this has to do with the website. I know they read it on a forum, but if it was a weekly flyer or local bar the cops were getting their material from and bringing that to work in the form of racist jokes and comments wouldn't they still be suing work because co-workers had created a hostile work environment?

        I don't see how they can enforce the website being taken down, but the owner co
  • Screw'em! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:40PM (#28741557) Homepage

    We have had this sickening pattern of pandering to groups who take the most offense to things. Women in the workplace and black people in the work place. Neither are typically "minorities" and if/when the tables are turned and a group was making "white" or "man" jokes, white men would likely not care at all.

    It's time to say "toughen up!!!" It's not like they are in fear of anything. There will always be something to offend people if you dig deep enough. So stop digging and you won't find things. There will always be aspects of humanity and society that seems annoying and offensive. When people take those things too far, you end up living with Taliban rule. What is "too far"? I don't know. But black and female people have long since expired their period of needing special treatment and are fully equal in opportunity and respect as far as I can tell. It's time we all treat each other equally badly.

    • We have had this sickening pattern of pandering to groups who take the most offense to things. Women in the workplace and black people in the work place. Neither are typically "minorities" and if/when the tables are turned and a group was making "white" or "man" jokes, white men would likely not care at all.

      It's time to say "toughen up!!!" It's not like they are in fear of anything.

      Actually, men have also files harassment claims, mostly for man on man. I guess they should have just toughened up as well.

      The point is that this type of behavior in a workplace is simply wrong; and employers havea duty to take action to prevent or stop it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by erroneus (253617)

        I would argue that men filing complaints on men is typically people taking advantage of the system that was built to foster equality in the workplace. And that is yet another problem resulting from the "fixes" put into place.

        Women in the workplace and black people in the professional work place "were" new things and needed policies and even laws to make the transition less painful and unpleasant. But it was a //transition// that has been made. All these claims simply aren't needed the way they once were.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bhsx (458600)
          OK, here's a part of my past I'd rather forget:
          I was a waiter at TGIFridays in '97-'98. I had worked there for a year when a new manager came on duty, I'm 5'10", he's 6'4" and the first day I worked with him he "choked" me to the point where I fell on my knees in front of him in a particularly unnerving way. He had a fairly creepy smile on his face while this was happening. This was a "joke" you see? It was supposed to somehow be funny. I was "lovingly" abused as a child (by a Chicago cop, no less), an
          • by erroneus (253617)

            The answer starting from the first count of assault should not have been to contact HR or upper management, but to call the POLICE. Assault is a crime, not an HR matter. Any number of civil complaints could have been filed as well, but they don't have to be "racial" or "sexual" and can be filed against the people involved, not the company. This is what you should have done and depending on the statues of limitations in your area, it is what you SHOULD do.

          • Oh bullshit. You should have gone to the police. Why should _you_ get money out of something like this when some poor guy or woman who gets raped by unknown assailants in the alley gets jack shit? Civil law in this country shouldn't be used to right all wrongs, it should be used in cases of fraud or negligence. The criminal code is intended for stuff like assault.
        • Re:Screw'em! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday July 18, 2009 @02:41PM (#28742475) Homepage Journal

          Women in the workplace and black people in the professional work place "were" new things and needed policies and even laws to make the transition less painful and unpleasant. But it was a //transition// that has been made. All these claims simply aren't needed the way they once were.

          Too bad you haven't made the transition to HTML.

          Snarky asides aside, if you think that white males, any women, and any blacks are equal in the workplace, think again. And if you aren't incensed when your tax dollars are spent to support racism (cops are allegedly using this site during work hours, and the racism is spilling over into the workplace) then you're Part Of The Problem.

          But if it's jokes and crap like that? Forget it! There will always be groups and cliques and things that make some people uncomfortable.

          The police should be held to a higher standard, as should any government employee, not least because individual citizens don't get to choose where the money goes. Racism begets racism, racist thought begets racist thought, if they're creating this environment amongst themselves, how are they treating The People?

    • Re:Screw'em! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Saturday July 18, 2009 @01:03PM (#28741725)

      We have had this sickening pattern of pandering to groups who take the most offense to things.

      We pander because those same groups have a habit of hiring lawyers and having laws passed to "protect" them.

      My girlfriend is black, I'm not ... and we both feel precisely the way you do. Granted, she wasn't born here, she's African by birth. In spite of that (or, more likely, because of that, she grew up in some damn tough environments) she believes that a lot of people in this country just need to deal with the fact that life can be harsh. Fact is, some people are assholes. Period, end-of-statement. Wasting more than a millisecond of neuron time over that is a complete waste.

      • We pander because those same groups have a habit of hiring lawyers and having laws passed to "protect" them.

        The laws ARE deficient. Nobody should have to endure racist and sexist jokes and commentary at work. The message these groups want to send is simply: Go outside for that. That's where the first amendment is, not here.

        • People think "at work" is some special "zone" that's somehow owned by we, the people or the big nanny government. It's not. These laws are all stupid and unconstitutional. Alas, we're stuck with them so they should only be used in the most blatant cases.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bartab (233395)

          The laws ARE deficient. Nobody should have to endure racist and sexist jokes and commentary at work.

          No, they shouldn't. And in this specific case, because their employer is the gov't itself, they should have an internal complaint procedure. It should not involve the courts, and for example if they were working at a grocery store instead of a police department then their only guaranteed resolution would be to quit. At will employment. All these laws to "protect" employees taint the marketplace. If I want to

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            All these laws to "protect" employees taint the marketplace. If I want to hire somebody to haul live electrical cable around while I smoke cigarettes and blow smoke in their face and an albino midget yells racially crass jokes at them, then that's the job and if they want it we can come to an agreement on pay rates.

            Fortunately, people with better business sense than you passed laws to prevent this, ostensibly because there's no business reason for you to be blowing smoke in someone's face while an albino midget yells racially crass jokes at them, and perhaps by avoiding these things the job of hauling live electrical cable around would be safer to both the employee and the public at large.

            Also, surprisingly enough, business owners have discovered that treating their employees with dignity and respect tends to improve

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        My girlfriend is black... Granted, she wasn't born here, she's African by birth.

        White Americans treat immigrant Africans as a "model minority" group in comparison to African Americans from slavery. The la times has a decent summary of the sentiment and you can find more in American studies papers.
        http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-chude-sokei18feb18,0,7298828.story?coll=la-opinion-center

        Basically just because Minority group X (where x is Asian, immigrant Africans or whatever) seem to succeed and accept racism, it does not generally justify or excuse it. The Civil Rights moveme

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Stu1706 (1392693)
      I do agree that we are to PC, except in the case of what is said about white men. If Sotomayor was a white guy talking about the plight of white men in this country everyone would have been yelling racism. But when you have an openly racist police officer, that is a totally different than just dealing with people not being PC.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995)

        Sotomayor is a terrible example, there are/were legions of people yelling racism about her comments.

        Colbert did a great bit last week showing Roberts and Alito making vaguely similar comments about their life experience. The Daily Show showed Lindsay Graham making an ass of himself during the Alito hearings, and then doing it later during the Sotomayor hearings.

        I don't think she did herself any favors with the remark that she made, but I also tend to think that she was making the remark based on the context

      • by hedwards (940851)
        That's a huge exaggeration. That's an argument which the Klan was fond of advancing as a justification for getting rid of affirmative action. In fact David Duke was the individual that's credited with coining the term reverse discrimination.

        What you're missing is that there is a huge difference between somebody that has a privileged position making those sorts of comments and those that are being repressed. It's not that there's a substantive difference between the comments, but there is a huge differenc
    • by MacTO (1161105)

      The issue isn't people taking offense to things. The issue isn't even the website, though it is being used as a tool in this case. So what is the issue?

      The issue is people using racism as a means of intimidation, either because they are on an ego trip or because they want to force the "outsiders" out. Toughening up may be an option in the first case, but I would argue that it isn't an ideal solution. The act of toughening up in order to preserve the "freedom to" of one group is at the cost of the "freed

      • by erroneus (253617)

        I can't speak for the police force, but I can certainly speak directly of the military having been there and done that. There are black groups and non-black groups and divisions and cliques and all sorts of causes of friction... and yes, even sexism and problems that resulted when women were allowed into areas they weren't previously. But when it comes to "facing the enemy" or anything dealing with professional performance, all of those other issues are forgotten very quickly. I imagine the same is true

    • Re:Screw'em! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @01:28PM (#28741917)

      We have had this sickening pattern of pandering to groups who take the most offense to things. Women in the workplace and black people in the work place. Neither are typically "minorities" and if/when the tables are turned and a group was making "white" or "man" jokes, white men would likely not care at all.

      Using women or blacks as an example and how they're allowed to make jokes that others aren't is a specious argument; Two wrongs don't make a right. The issue is that some people are failing to keep things professional. The expectation when you show up to work is that you work. Everything else is secondary to that, and if your color commentary is interfering with my (or anyone else's) work, it needs to stop. It's just that simple. You don't have a right to be offensive. That said, you're right insofar as some people overreact--just because someone else is a douche doesn't mean you have to sink to their level. A polite reminder or a memo is sufficient in 95% of all cases to correct the behavior. You don't even have to involve a manager most of the time. People are dumb, they make mistakes; Don't get worked up about it. For the remaining 5%, we have laws like this. On the clock, everything you do should be related to your job. But if you can't do that, at least have the decency to be mindful of the company you're keeping and making sure they are okay with your side conversation. It's just... being a decent human being.

      That said, police work consists of piss poor pay, long hours, high stress, a decent risk of getting a bullet in your ass, and it's a thankless profession. Like EMTs, most emergency services personnel have a dry and/or odd sense of humor that others find morbid, offensive, or downright rude. A lot of them smoke or "self-medicate" to cope. I think it's only natural that they'd need an outlet to express their work frustrations outside of work. And once it leaves the workplace, it's fair game, first amendment and everything. What you do on your own time is your own business, even if it is offensive and derogatory towards your coworkers. As a woman, I expect men to make sexually crass comments when I'm not around. I also know some of them will go home and smoke pot, do drugs, eat hot dogs and hamburgers until their heart explodes... and you know what? I'm okay with that. Just keep it away from me.

      People need to be mindful of the social spaces they occupy. I don't go to the bar dressed in a low-cut dress and then act outraged when some drunk creepy guy (or girl) hits on me. That's what bars are for. If the same person shows up drunk at the grocery store when I'm dressed in nothing more than jeans and a hoodie and does the same thing he's playing with fire. Likewise, showing up on an electronic forum for inner-city cops is likely to be full of racist, sexist, and every other kind of -ist and -ism out there, not because those people are somehow inherently evil, but because they deal with the worst examples of those groups on long shifts day after day.

      • Using women or blacks as an example and how they're allowed to make jokes that others aren't is a specious argument;

        Not at all. If women can make sexist jokes that a man couldn't, it's a double standard, which is what we're trying to avoid.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Not at all. If women can make sexist jokes that a man couldn't, it's a double standard, which is what we're trying to avoid.

          Do you exercise any care at all in what you read or are you in such a hurry that you stomp on other people in your efforts to attain the moral high ground? Go and read my post again and quote where in there I said I supported making sexist jokes at work, let alone double standards.

        • by jjohnson (62583)

          It would indeed be a double standard if it existed, and it would be just as wrong if the genders/races were reversed. Having watched a female manager get disciplined for sexually harassing a male subordinate, I'm sceptical that such a double standard actually exists except in the minds of angry white males who imagine they're being oppressed.

      • by Bartab (233395)

        The issue is that some people are failing to keep things professional

        Some jobs simply arn't professional.

    • by Bralkein (685733)
      White men wouldn't really get offended by such jokes because they have nothing to fear, but despite your claim to the contrary I think that others do indeed have something to be afraid of. It's easy to forget how recently racism and sexism were the norm, and those two spectres still loom large, even in the light of today's more enlightened attitudes. I think that extra caution is often warranted, especially when an institution like the police are concerned. The idea of a police force who discriminate based
    • by jjohnson (62583)

      But black and female people have long since expired their period of needing special treatment and are fully equal in opportunity and respect as far as I can tell.

      You're just stupidly, sadly wrong in this.

  • The Solution Here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fragmentate (908035) * <jdspilled AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:41PM (#28741561) Journal

    A lot of people misinterpret what "freedom of expression" means.

    People believe they have the write to "express" themselves as they please in the workplace. That simply isn't the case. Our rights -- our freedoms -- are protected against government interference not private interference. Your employer -- even a government office -- can silence you. There are laws for the workplace that take precedence over your rights. The law protects employees against being discriminated against or being harassed because of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, disabilities, sexual orientation, and gender. Those aren't rights, however. You don't have a right not to be harassed. You are protected by laws.

    Quite simply, these officers are out of line, and have broken laws. They don't have a choice but to change their behavior. If they want to frequent this site from home in their private time that is when their right to express themselves is enforceable. However, we all know there are consequences to actions in our private lives as well. But trying to make people behave to serve their best-interest is just a futile effort at protecting "stupid."

    The comments about this story are already ridiculous (search news.google.com, and blogs.google.com). Everyone thinks they know their rights, but I can tell by the comments none really know what their rights are, or what a right is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WiiVault (1039946)
      I don't think it is clear at all that they were posting whileon the job. Where did you come to that conclusion except based on the random guess of the plaintiff? I have yet to see a shred of proof. Its dirty and mean, but not illegal.
      • Who were you replying to? The post I just read doesn't mention anything about posting while on the job.
        • Nevemind, I'm blind, it's here: "If they want to frequent this site from home in their private time that is when their right". Still, I don't think they were saying that going on the site was illegal (or they are really ill informed). At worst it would be against the workplace policy but that should not be in itself illegal. I think they were referring to the expression of views from the site in front of people who would likely be offended by them. Which would be analogous to sexually harassing someone in t
    • by mckinnsb (984522)
      I'm not sure if I agree completely with your rights vs. laws discussion, but I agree with the general sentiment of your conclusion. If they visited the website at the police station and then used the website to conduct or even discuss police business while those discussions contained racist comments, then they are *way* out of line should probably be reprimanded in some way, either by suspension, demotion, or termination.

      Even if they didn't post these messages at the station, and did so within their priv
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      A further point of confusion is that the US constitution talks about right without regard to precedence. Supposedly these are rights that cannot be infringed, which is silly. As other bill of rights documents acknowledge, rights are hierarchical and, when they come into conflict, the one with higher precedence wins. Your right to freedom of speech ends when it begins to conflict with my right to security of person. An imprisoned murder's right to freedom of movement is curtailed because it conflicts wit

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by markdavis (642305)

        I wasn't aware the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights addressed having a "respectful workplace".

        We should all expect one, and we should all strive to make it that way. And most HR offices will have policies about it. But it is not a "right".

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Yours probably doesn't. Others do. Even in the US constitution there's that pesky little 9th amendment:

          "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

          So I hate to tell you, but in very many places, including in the US, a safe and respectful workplace is most certainly regarded as a "right," and generally one that is important enough to limit others, such as freedom of speech.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Jay L (74152) *

        rights are hierarchical and, when they come into conflict, the one with higher precedence wins.

        Ah, but what if I put the lower-precedence right in parentheses?

        See, that's how they get you.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Sometimes are so ludicrous they should be ignored.

    • by Like2Byte (542992)

      You know, I agree with you 100%. However, this whole affair reminds me the movie "Stripes".

      When Sargent Hulka was allowing the men to introduce themselves to everyone else one of the men, Francis, told everyone how he'd kill them if they touched him, his belongings or called him Francis. Call him 'Psycho.'

      Sargent Hulka reminded Francis that one of these days one of the assembled men might save his life.

      Bill Murray quipped, "Then again...maybe one of us wont."

      Think about it. No matter what...EVERYONE that is

  • Less QQ, more pew pew

  • Someone in possession of the full facts needs to exercise some judgment and if this behavior is unbecoming of a police officer, the officers should be disciplined. I would be surprised if the officers involved did not have some contractual requirement to maintain at least an appearance of impartiality.
  • by Doug52392 (1094585) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:48PM (#28741605)

    After browsing the site in question, there doesn't seem to be any rule that states that only law enforcement officials may register and participate in the discussions. Moreover, the site used to allow registration (it's been disabled due to so many users registering over the past day, however).

  • Cry me a river (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:49PM (#28741611)
    While it is certainly in bad taste to have officers voicing these opinions on a forum, what is even more absurd is the lack of integrity of these lawyers to file such an insane lawsuit. Was anything illegal even committed? Also worth noting that these same lawyers are tacking the "pool kids" case. I can't help but think that perhaps that story is a similar pile of "I'm a victim" bullshit. Its sad when people abuse race, because it leads to distrust of those who are actually being discriminated against and need help.
  • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:49PM (#28741615) Homepage Journal

    If a man goes to a private website like say, Playboy in private and then discusses it in front of female co-workers, they may be charged with harassment. Guess what, just because its a private website, magazine, or bar doesn't mean you should repeat those thoughts or experiences or stories in front of your co-workers who could most obviously be offended.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      Bingo. This has absolutely nothing to do with the 'online forum' and everything to do with inappropriate conduct in the workplace. If these people didn't read it on the 'online forum', they'd have read it elsewhere instead and the same thing would have happened.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695)

      Everyone is offended by something, by your suggestion we should all exist in a box and not speak to any other human.

      If you are offended by what i say and you don't walk away, its your problem, not mine. Im really tired of all this "PC" garbage where we are expected to walk on eggshells all the time. What happened to the so called victim taking some responsibility?

      • by jjohnson (62583)

        If I'm a woman and you're a male coworker who likes to describe in detail to me, every day, how he jerked off to bigtittedbitches.com the night before, how is that my responsibility? Why should having to listen to you be a condition of doing my job? How am I supposed to walk away when you're in the next cubicle to me, or you're my boss?

        If you think you have to walk on eggshells now, that's probably because you're a complete asshole in the workplace who has trouble comprehending why people get offended. M

      • by prichardson (603676) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @05:24PM (#28743539) Journal

        Actually, when say something that's obviously offensive to someone who is required to be proximate to you for their livelihood, they can't just walk away. That's why it's generally considered merely ridiculous when someone spouts racist garbage on the street, but as soon as you bring it to the workplace, you break the law.

        "Walk away" is not a possible solution when you're trapped in a squad car with some bigot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mpe (36238)
      If a man goes to a private website like say, Playboy in private and then discusses it in front of female co-workers, they may be charged with harassment.

      If a woman was to go to somewhere like Playgirl then discussed it in front of male co-workers would she be equally likely to be charged with harassment? Aside from possible sexism, what if a sports fan were to discuss his/her sport in front of non fan co-workers...
  • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:51PM (#28741633) Journal
    How much money are they trying to get?
    $23,148,855,308,184,500?
  • by EWAdams (953502) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:52PM (#28741643) Homepage

    You're allowed to hold any idiot opinion you want in the USA. You are not allowed to express it on the job. Workplace harmony trumps freedom to be an asshole. This was settled long ago; it's a dead issue. It goes double for cops, who need both to be sensitive to the public AND to have the full confidence and support of their fellow officers.

    Don't like it? Go be a cop in Saudi, where I'm sure you're allowed to be as racist as you like.

  • [...] Philadelphia police officers [...] What is the solution here?

    Make sure police officers in the rest of world get to know the site as well? [wikipedia.org]

  • by ATestR (1060586)

    Ok, if the white cops post their opinions about the minority (black) residents of their city, it's discrimination. Does anybody want to lay odds that a similar comment made by a minority officer about a white resident would NOT be considered discrimination? Or that if an accusation of racial discrimination was made against the minority, that a charge of discrimination against the accuser would be leveled?

    I did RTFA. Some of the sample comments that the article displayed were a bit over the top, and the o

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Ok, if the white cops post their opinions about the minority (black) residents of their city, it's discrimination.

      WTF? That's not discrimination. Do you even know what the word means? It came to be used in regards to minorities in the work place for a reason. It actually means chosing one thing over another. For example, when deciding whether to eat an apple or an orange, you discriminate between them and choos the apple because you like red better, or you may choose the orange because it has more vitamine C. That's discrimination, the meaning doesn't changed when applied to minorities, just the criteria. When it

  • Solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KharmaWidow (1504025)

    Grow up. Its just words. The "victims" give the words power, not the racists. Learn from the gay movement.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Why don't you tell us a bit about yourself, then we'll make fun of you. Then you can imagine that we're your coworkers and that happens all day, every time you go work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2009 @01:38PM (#28741979)
    I can relate to that and I'm not even black. I was born in Africa and got my first job in North America as a 'Token Black'. My new employer was rather surprised to see that I was white. Since then, I have on numerous occasions been turned down for a job as soon as the employer learned that I was born in Africa. When I mentioned to a friend that being an African American White causes trouble while job hunting, he said that I have nothing to complain about, since he is an African American White Jew... The only solution to American racism is to start your own company.
  • Usually police function under rules that make reference to the dignity of their position or of the police department. Operating or even participating in any site that is clearly racist might be enough to terminate an officer or just about any public employee.
    As a matter of fact there are laws about members of the public insulting the dignity of an officer as well. If you decide to call a cop a bloated, blue, doughnut swilling creep you can probably be arreste

  • by kenh (9056) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @05:12PM (#28743467) Homepage Journal

    The assertions are that:

    a) A police officer owns/runs a website that sometimes hosts racist humor/statements.

    b) Some police officers access this site and tell others what they saw/read there while "on the job".

    c) Some police officers update the website while on the job.

    d) Some police officers access/read the website while at work.

    The first point (policeman running the website) is perfectly legal - assuming he isn't violating any city ordinances (no pictures while in uniform, representing himself as speaking for the department, etc.).

    The Second point (quoting from the site), well, hate speech is hate speech, the source of it is immaterial - would the black cops feel better if the racist comment was being sourced from a Chris Rock concert? Bill Cosby? Police who are found to be harassing fellow officers should be punished, and I'm sure there are ways of making that happen *inside the department*.

    The third and fourth points (updating the website from work and reading the website at work), well, if they are on break, and they don't use department resources (for example, they use a PDA/smartphone, not a desktop computer), what is the offense? If they are not on break, again, there are methods for punishing these infractions inside the department I'm sure.

    Is there a reason the PD doesn't simply block the webiste in question? Issue a policy saying the website is not to be accessed during work hours or at anytime on police department equipment? Hate speech is already covered, I'm sure.

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

Working...