Black probation officer awarded $100,000 for being offended by Blue Lives Matter flag in the office

Having a low threshold for tolerance is a profitable affliction for some, as evidenced by a $100,000 settlement offered to a Multnomah County employee who was offended by a “Thin Blue Line” flag on an office wall.

The city limits of Portland are contained within Multnomah County in Oregon, and that probably says a lot about the decision by the County Board of Commissioners.

A lawsuit filed by Karimah Guion-Pledgure, a black woman and a corrections technician in the Department of Community Justice (DCJ), alleged that county workers retaliated against her after she complained about the flag that an employee hung on a wall.

Thin Blue Line / Blue Lives Matter flag supporters say it’s meant to support and honor the work and sacrifices of law enforcement officers.

Her complaint said, “The Black Lives Matter movement was started to call attention to the disproportionate policing and killing of Black people by law enforcement. The ‘Blue Lives Matter’ sign co-opts that racial justice movement’s slogan, repurposes it to shift focus to law enforcement — a chosen profession, not a racial identity — and thus denigrates, dilutes, and demeans the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

According to The Oregonian, her lawyers said that she felt unsafe at work after complaining about the flag and the county’s failure to help her put together as “safety plan.”

The flag remained up six months after Guion-Pledgure’s complaint, so she erected an “equity wall” which displayed photos of people of color who had been killed by police officers. She was asked by managers to take the photos down, but refused because the “Blue Lives Matter” flag remained in place.

The Oregonian reported: Among the hostility she felt: More than six months after the probation officer’s flag remained on the wall, Guion-Pledgure erected an “equity wall” that displayed photos of minorities killed by police, the suit states. Managers told her to take down the photos, the lawsuit says, but she refused because the Blue Lives Matter flag remained. A week later, managers responded with a new rule that all personal photos displayed needed to be smaller than 5-by-7 inches, according to the suit.

That same day, Guion-Pledgure found two sticky notes affixed to her equity wall reading “Thanks a lot” and “Bitch,” according to the lawsuit.

According to the Portland Mercury’s story, the lawsuit charged the county “continued to expose Guion-Pledgure to a racially offensive and combative work environment.”

Guion-Pledgure’s attorney said the settlement was a sign that the “DCJ needs to get itself in order” with regard to workplace discrimination. “Both (Guion-Pledgure) and I hope this is the beginning of … addressing these issues that have been plaguing the county for years now,” he said.

According to terms of the settlement, Guion-Pledgure is dropping her lawsuit and will receive $100,000. She will no longer be employed by the county, but will be permitted to re-apply for new open positions at the county in the future.

Multnomah County commissioners did not comment on the lawsuit before voting to approve the settlement.

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