August 31, 2016 at 8:40 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Probable cause that D.C. gay cop subjected to discrimination
Justin Markiewicz, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay Officer Justin Markiewicz claims police officials addressed him as ‘Justine.’ (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Office of Human Rights on Aug. 16 issued a finding of probable cause that D.C. police officials subjected gay Officer Justin Markiewicz to discrimination and retaliation by repeatedly addressing him by the name “Justine,” according to Markiewicz’s attorney, Glen Ackerman.

“Be advised that the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights found probable cause to believe that the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia subjected Justin Markiewicz to a hostile work environment when the Police Department repeatedly identified Mr. Markiewicz as ‘Justine’ beginning in January 2014 and that it failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassing behavior,” Ackerman said in a statement released to the Washington Blade.

“The Office of Human Rights also found probable cause to believe that the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia retaliated against Mr. Markiewicz by denying his request for overtime compensation shortly after he complained about being referred to as ‘Justine’ by his colleagues,” Ackerman said in his statement.

By issuing a finding of probable cause the OHR asserts that the accused party appears to have violated the D.C. Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on a wide range of categories, including sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity and expression.

Ackerman said Markiewicz has decided not to release to the media the OHR’s official Letter of Determination of Probable Cause, in part, because police officials have accused him of sharing too much information with the press and on social media about police-related matters.

The OHR has a policy of not releasing its findings of probable cause in discrimination cases until it certifies the case for a public hearing before the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, an independent adjudicatory body that decides whether discrimination has occurred.

Under OHR rules, it doesn’t certify a case to go before the Commission on Human Rights until the two parties enter into discussions for a possible conciliation agreement to settle the case after a finding of probable cause has been issued.

Ackerman declined to comment on what conditions Markiewicz might request in order to reach a conciliation agreement, saying such information involves internal strategy that he cannot disclose at this time.

“Mr. Markiewicz is doing what he loves,” Ackerman said in his statement. “He is safeguarding the District of Columbia and protecting its residents and visitors by providing the highest quality of police service with integrity, compassion, and a commitment to innovation that integrate people, technology and progressive business systems.”

News that Markiewicz had filed a discrimination complaint with the OHR surfaced earlier this year when Markiewicz filed a separate lawsuit against the city to obtain email and cell phone records of several police officials, including Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

The lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court, accused the city of failing to comply with Markiewicz’s Freedom of Information Act request for the phone and email records. The lawsuit didn’t say why Markiewicz was seeking those records. But sources familiar with the department said the FOIA case was filed at a time when Markiewicz was considering filing a discrimination complaint with the OHR over allegations of a hostile work environment.

A Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit on technical grounds, saying Markiewicz’s lawyer failed to notify the city about the suit by a required deadline. However, prior to the dismissal of the suit, police officials complied with Markiewicz’s FOIA request and turned over the information he sought, according to his lawyer at that time.

The city’s Capital Pride organization honored Markiewicz in June 2015 with its annual Hero Award for what it said was his exemplary work as a member of the police LGBT Liaison Unit. A short time later, Markiewicz requested and received permission to leave the liaison unit to return to a previous assignment as a patrol officer in the Sixth Police District. Police sources said his reason for leaving the LGBT unit was the alleged hostile work environment he faced there from police officials who had jurisdiction over the unit.

D.C. police spokesperson Aquita Brown said her office was working on getting a response to a request by the Blade for a police department comment on the OHR finding or probable cause in the Markiewicz case.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • I believe that Chief Lanier, through Assistant Chief Groomes and their SLD Supervisor, targeted Officer Markiewicz for retaliation, employing repeated acts of anti-gay, on-the-job harassment. Shame on them.

    A petty, vindictive management style is what Lanier and Groomes have long been known for within MPD.

    Together with Groomes’ outrageous encouragement for MPD’s top commanders to cheat on tests, and her sarcastic, mocking dismissal of the “very ethical” whistleblower who alerted MPD to Groomes’ corruption and unethical conduct, well, that renders her unfair for any command position at MPD.

    Groomes should do the decent thing– retire and move on. Only then, can the stench of MPD management corruption and institutional homophobia/ transphobia be cleaned up.


    MPD ‘investigated’ its own, most visible Assistant Chief for encouraging widespread test cheating among the DC police department’s highest ranking commanders.

    What happened? What usually happens when a corrupt law enforcement agency investigates itself for official wrongdoing?

    Groomes Declared Innocent!
    Cheaters never win. But the Metropolitan Police Department has declared that Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes isn’t a cheater, so… she’s won!

    That sounds like iffy reasoning. None of the police sources City Desk talked to suggested that Groomes gave out an official “answer key,” just answers, and an “open-book test” implies, well, opening a book. That means slogging through an academic text for the answers buried there, instead of, say, clicking through an e-mail where they’re all laid out…
    But among D.C. cops, the word—rightly or wrongly— most often used to describe department politics is “vindictive.” **


    **MPD Retakes Test Washed Out By Cheating Allegations**
    The test was first issued this fall, but has been reformulated and re-administered because of cheating allegations levied against Assistant Chief Diane Groomes. MPD has now cleared Groomes of any wrongdoing. Some have found that development curious. Groomes seemed to be apologizing for cheating in an earlier statement: “I’m sorry… for my actions and bad judgement,” she wrote in an e-mail. The chairman of the D.C. Council’s Public Safety and Judiciary Committee, At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson, sounded as though he’d learned she’d given out a cheat sheet to help other officers. “She supposedly said: ‘Hey, you have to get this done, you are overdue. Here, here’s the answers. Just get this in,’ ” Mendelson told The Washington Post.

    The FBI found itself in a somewhat similar situation in 2009, points out Kris Baumann, the D.C. police union chief, and heads rolled.”What are we saying? That we’re less ethical than the FBI?”**

  • They’re cops, what can we expect? This is how they all behave around minorities.

  • Justin is a great guy and I know him personally. The best!

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