In­ves­ti­ga­tion finds ev­i­dence of dis­crim­i­na­tion by Howard sher­iff

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND | NATION - By Fa­timah Waseem

The Howard County Of­fice of Hu­man Rights has con­cluded that Sher­iff James Fitzger­ald dis­crim­i­nated against Lt. Charles Gable for more than five years, sub­ject­ing Gable to such “abu­sive” treat­ment that he was forced to leave the agency.

Af­ter Gable did not sup­port Fitzger­ald’s sec­ond po­lit­i­cal cam­paign, the hu­man rights of­fice re­ported, Fitzger­ald “be­rated and be­lit­tled” Gable to the point that he had “no other choice but to leave his job.”

The 48-page de­ci­sion, dated Sept. 1, was ob­tained from Gable’s at­tor­ney, Joseph Mal­lon Jr.

Cur­rent and for­mer sher­iff’s of­fice em­ploy­ees who were in­ter­viewed for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­scribed sim­i­lar treat­ment by Fitzger­ald be­cause they did not share his po­lit­i­cal opin­ions or sup­port his elec­tion.

The hu­man rights of­fice said the sher­iff, who is white, be­rated em­ploy­ees with what some de­scribed as racially charged lan­guage and ges­tures against African-Amer­i­cans, and de­meaned “the in­tegrity of the per­son by use of in­ap­pro­pri­ate hu­mor based on racial stereo­types.”

The hu­man rights of­fice re­ported that the sher­iff used the “n-word,” made deroga­tory com­ments about women’s breasts and called for­mer County Ex­ec­u­tive Ken Ul­man “lit­tle Kenny Jew Boy.”

Fitzger­ald, who is in his third term as sher­iff, did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. A spokes­woman for the state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice, which rep­re­sents Fitzger­ald in his of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity, said Fitzger­ald dis­agrees with the find­ings.

“No judge or jury has de­ter­mined that Sher­iff Fitzger­ald vi­o­lated any laws,” spokes­woman Raquel Coombs said. “The sher­iff dis­agrees with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion’s find­ings, par­tic­u­larly since he did not have an op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The hu­man rights of­fice in­ter­viewed Fitzger­ald, Coombs said, but the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was “one-sided in terms of the abil­ity to cross-ex­am­ine wit­nesses.”

The hu­man rights of­fice said Fitzger­ald de­nied en­gag­ing in any dis­crim­i­na­tory con­duct. He said he rep­ri­manded Gable on work-re­lated is­sues, but in­di­cated it was “noth­ing out of the or­di­nary.” He de­scribed him­self as “a loud New Yorker.”

The hu­man rights of­fice found “rea­son­able cause” for a find­ing of dis­crim­i­na­tion. The mat­ter can now be con­sid­ered by the county’s Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, in a court or through me­di­a­tion.

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