It’s an eight-year-old case of racial discrimination that the city of Springfield is looking to settle once and for all.
An ordinance on first reading for the Springfield City Council would settle the case of three white Springfield police officers who worked for the city, voluntarily left, and then came back on for a much longer period of time.
They claim they were discriminated against because of their race by not receiving pay equivalent to their seniority and length of service.
Two of the officers have since retired and a third, Kevin Groesch, is still employed by SPD.
Groesh is receiving $43,000 over three years while the other two are receiving almost $29,000 each, over three years.
Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen says the city determined the total amount to settle and the claimants’ attorneys decide who got what. $50,000 goes to their attorneys.
The case was originally filed in US District Court in 2004. Cullen says it has since gone to the appeal court twice and he recommended settling as the best way to resolve the matter.
Aldermen will determin whether or not to settle the case for $150,000 in a couple of weeks.
Cullen says their claim was based on what the policies were at the time and that nobody was singled out for discriminatory action. Cullen also says that the policy hasn’t been cleared up yet because they were all part of a collective bargaining agreement and the policies are not something the city can unilaterally change.
The Corporation Counsel recommended the resolution saying the city doesn't believe the policy had any discriminatory impact but because of officers personal circumstances it created a potential dispute that the city would ultimately have to deal with.
“A resolution like this was better than taking a chance and going to court,” something Cullen said would cost the city even more money.