Discrimination lawsuit against Whitley Co. Sheriff’s Department will be presented to jury

("My Trusty Gavel" by Brian Turner, CC BY 2.0)

A black former Whitley County deputy, who raised a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, will be allowed to continue his lawsuit.

This after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, overturned a decision by the District Court of Northern Indiana and did find evidence of possible racial discrimination by the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department.

A panel of three judges said the Sheriff’s Department was dishonest in its reasoning for firing Terrance McKinney.

He was hired in August 2013 and fired in May of 2014.

The Sheriff initially named three reasons for McKinney’s firing including falsification of work hours, violation of monthly reports and mistreatment of county vehicles. However, just four days later, the Whitley County Board of Commissioners sent McKinney a termination letter that added two more reasons for his discharge: damaging a county vehicle and failure to complete a transport.

Soon after his termination, McKinney sued the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department.

McKinney’s claim against the department cited being treated differently than his white colleagues. He claimed some employees wouldn’t train him and that one deputy used the “n-word” in front of him.  He also submitted evidence of gas receipts, scheduling records, prisoner transport records, and more—to show that the supposed reasons for firing him were baseless, according to court documents.

The Sheriff’s Department moved for summary judgment and the District Court of Indiana agreed and granted summary judgment to the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department. However, the 7th Circuit Court reversed that ruling stating, “…the district court disregarded most of McKinney’s evidence.” Tuesday’s decision allows McKinney’s lawsuit to return to the lower court for a jury trial.

Read full court document – 7th Circuit McKinney v Whitley Co. Sheriff’s Department – here.