By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Latana Williams’ lawsuit is back in federal court against the Tupelo Police Department.
Williams, who is black, accused the department of blocking her employment because of her sex and race.
In 2010, U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock threw out her lawsuit, saying none of her contentions “show any racial or gender bias” by TPD.
Tuesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans reversed that decision and sent the case back to her.
The city contended that Williams, who later became a police officer in Grenada, was not qualified for the police department after she failed two parts of her training in 2008.
The 5th U.S. Circuit ruled there were sufficient questions about Williams’ treatment by the police department and the city’s explanation of her dismissal from the training program to justify her lawsuit being heard.
Williams is represented by attorney Jim Waide of Tupelo. She was hired by TPD in January 2008, providing she graduated a 10-week basic training class.
Writing for the 5th Circuit, Judge Jerry E. Smith said Williams, “is a black woman who applied to become a TPD officer, was qualified for the position according to her version of her training, was dismissed from the academy despite her qualifications, and was replaced by a white man.”
Did she take too many remediations to pass or did her testers recommend dismissal because they didn’t want a black woman working with them, the three-judge panel asked.
The appeals court said Aycock’s finding in favor of Tupelo “was not appropriate,” although the appeals court expresses no view on the ultimate merits of Williams’ claims.