By Sandy Malone and Christopher Berg
Multnomah County, OR – A now-former correctional employee will receive a $100,000 settlement payment for a lawsuit accusing Multnomah County of not fostering a racially-sensitive workplace after her supervisors refused to order a probation officer to take down a Thin Blue Line flag at her request.
The Multnomah County Board Of Commissioners approved the $100,000 payout Thursday, according to Portland Mercury.
Karimah Guion-Pledgure alleged in her lawsuit that she was retaliated against after she put up an “equity wall” in the office that displayed large pictures of black people killed officer-involved shootings and their associated protests, The Oregonian reported.
Managers told Guion-Pledgure, who has worked for the county’s Department of Community Justice as a corrections technician since 2011, to take down her anti-police shrine.
But her lawsuit said she refused because the Thin Blue Line flag was still installed on her co-worker’s office wall.
Then managers solved the problem by announcing a new rule a week later that prohibited employees from displaying pictures larger than 5x7 inches, The Oregonian reported.
Her lawsuit claimed that she found sticky notes with the words “Thanks a lot” and “B---h” stuck to her so-call equity wall.
Guion-Pledgure’s attorneys told The Oregonian that their client felt unsafe at work because of the hostility she attracted after she complained about the Thin Blue Line flag.
Her suit claimed that Multnomah County had failed to help her develop a “safety plan,” The Oregonian reported.
It was not clear how exactly Guion-Pledgure thought the Thin Blue Line flag was going to harm her.
The lawsuit erroneously referred to the flag as the “Blue Lives Matter” flag and complained that the law enforcement movement has co-opted the Black Lives Matter movement and repurposed 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.”
But the flag Guion-Pledgure complained about, which is actually known as a “Thin Blue Line” flag, was created long before Black Lives Matter ever existed. The term “thin blue line” has been popular with law enforcement officers since the 1950s.
Thin Blue Line flags are flags that express support for law enforcement and have no direct connection to any Blue Lives Matter organization outside of their original meaning to show support for police.
The Thin Blue Line flag has become a tangible target for the anti-police community to protest.
Black Lives Matter Sacramento called on its supporters to steal the police supporter flags and deliver them to their organization in an early January Facebook post.
An Irish bar faced tremendous backlash in Indiana after it responded to one online complaint by removing their Thin Blue Line flag from the restaurant.
Some legislators have even introduced legislation to protect the flying of Thin Blue Line flags from homeowner’s association overreach.
The settlement with Guion-Pledgure allows her to apply for other positions in the county where she will again be in a position to sue with more inaccurate claims.
The Oregonian reports that the county is working on a policy to avoid the display of Thin Blue Line flags.
“We are currently working on a countywide policy addressing this issue,” a county spokesperson told the newspaper.