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Federal judge dismisses discrimination lawsuits filed by Michigan State Police officers

A Michigan State Police file photo.
Michigan State Police

A federal district court judge has dismissed three lawsuits filed by white male Michigan State Police officers. The lawsuits claimed they were discriminated and retaliated against on the basis of race and gender.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan Judge Robert J. Jonker dismissed the cases brought by Robert Hahn, Michael Caldwell and Michael McCormick in orders filed Monday.

McCormick had been passed over for promotion in favor of a Black female officer with less experience. Afterward, court records show, he became angry and bitter, and fellow officers complained about his negative behavior.

McCormick sued after he withdrew his own application for a different promotion, because he became convinced the decision had already been made to award it to a minority officer.

The judge noted in dismissing McCormick's case, "By all accounts, McCormick let his negative attitude get in the way of what has in all other respects been a successful career. ... It does not amount to discrimination or retaliation."

Officer Hahn was terminated for violating department rules, and Caldwell was demoted for the same reason, but the two men claimed the disciplinary actions were illegal retaliation for making comments critical of the Michigan State Police agency's efforts to increase diversity in its ranks.

In dismissing their cases, the judge said, "Plaintiffs plainly disagree as a policy matter with the priorities of the Michigan State Police. And at bottom, this is all they have shown."

State Attorney General Dana Nessel said the judge's decisions were significant. “These dismissals are important not just for MSP’s integrity as an employer, but for recognizing there is nothing inherently illegal about a diverse and inclusive work environment,” she said in a statement.

“These suits were an attempt to undermine MSP’s efforts to ensure the force properly represents the communities it serves. That doesn’t amount to discrimination – it's responsible community policing," she said.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.