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Bartlesville Police Department Facing Two Discrimination Lawsuits

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Picture of Elizabeth Mitchell. Picture of Elizabeth Mitchell.
Picture of a Bartlesville police car. Picture of a Bartlesville police car.

Ashli Sims, News On 6

BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma -- Two different federal lawsuits accuse the Bartlesville police department of discriminating against women and Hispanics. The allegations come from two of their own.

One current Bartlesville officer and a former officer are suing the department and their branch of the Fraternal Order of Police for more than $12 million.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Sergeant Beth Mitchell claims she's been repeatedly discriminated against for 16 years.

6/17/2011 Related Story: Bartlesville Police Officer Asks For $6 Million In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

She says in the suit that she endured "a barrage of sexual references, obscene comments, sexually suggestive physical gestures and exposure to inappropriate photographs."

The suit alleges that Mitchell's superiors "took pictures of her backside" and "asked if her breasts were real."

Mitchell also claims she was passed over several times for promotions, in favor of lesser qualified white male colleagues.

Former officer Cody Thomas also claims he was harassed, but he says it was his ethnicity not gender that put a target on his back.

6/27/2011 Related Story: Bartlesville Police Department Hit With 2nd Federal Lawsuit This Month

Thomas' suit claims he was subjected to racially charged comments because of his Hispanic heritage.

It goes on to say that his superior officers stated, "kinda funny the only ones we have problems with are the two Hispanics."

And it claims Bartlesville's Chief of Police, Tom Holland, commented that Thomas was a lot darker than he remembered him being when we hired him."

Thomas says his supervisors complimented him, saying he was one of the fastest officers ever to get a commendation." But he says he was forced to do remedial training and was criticized for using big words in his police reports, which eventually got him fired.

The city of Bartlesville's attorney says he does not comment on ongoing litigation.

Both Sergeant Mitchell and former officer Cody Thomas are represented by the same attorney, who also declined to comment.

A call to the Bartlesville police chief was not returned.

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