Former Minneapolis cops file age discrimination lawsuit against chief

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau.
Peter Cox / MPR News

Five former high-ranking Minneapolis police officers are suing Police Chief Janee Harteau for age discrimination and retaliation.

The plaintiffs — all former captains — range in age from 48 to 60 and say they were forced out of their jobs after the department eliminated the captain's rank.

In their lawsuit, they claim Harteau said often that the department needed "young blood." She wanted older members of the command staff to retire or quit so she could replace them with younger people.

Attorney Bryce Miller said his clients were offered assignments as lieutenants and kept at the same pay grade. But after they complained, Miller says they got undesirable assignments such as night duty.

"When they stood up and said this is not OK, that this is clear ageism, they weren't just moved to a different position, they were moved to the most demeaning position possible given where they were currently assigned," he said.

One plaintiff, 53-year-old Constance Leaf, was given an assignment unheard of for lieutenants.

"She was demoted to something called dog watch, which is the night shifts at one of the precincts, and completely removed from those crime lab duties," Miller said.

Miller says only one of the former captains still works for the department.

A police spokesman says the department can't comment on pending litigation.

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