Jones, 44, a 15-year veteran, filed suit Sept. 17 in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.
The lawsuit contends that within the Philadelphia Police Department, “police officers known to be gay are subject to harassment, held in low esteem and are at an increased risk of harm.”
In May 2009, Daniel Castro, a former high-ranking police official, began harassing Jones after observing him leave an LGBT-oriented bar, Jones alleges in the suit.
At the time, Jones was on medical leave for torn ligaments in his hand, and Castro allegedly began pressuring him to return to work directly under his command.
Castro wanted Jones to become “an inside confidante to accommodate Castro’s questionable activities,” the lawsuit maintains.
Jones declined the offer because Castro had a reputation of pressuring subordinates to “doctor” police reports, according to the suit.
Castro is no longer employed by the city. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion in an unrelated matter, and was sentenced to 60 months in prison.
In June 2009, Jones returned to work in an “operations room,” where police reports are handled. But within days, the officer said, Castro had Jones transferred to street patrol.
The suit contends that, after Jones attempted to lodge an internal antibias complaint, he was assigned to an undesired “graveyard shift” and several colleagues began treating him negatively, which he attributed to anti-LGBT animosity encouraged by Castro.
In January 2010, while Jones was out on sick leave, Castro circulated a staff memo that identified Jones as “Mel Jones Cums,” according to the lawsuit.
Jones filed two complaints with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, alleging employment discrimination and retaliation due to Jones’ race (African-American), sex and sexual orientation. But those omplaints were dismissed as unsubstantiated, the suit said.
Gerald J. Pomerantz, an attorney for Jones, said the officer is seeking in excess of $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages and will request a jury trial.
Jones was unavailable for comment due to the pending litigation, his attorney said.
“My client has held up very well under the circumstances,” Pomerantz told PGN. “He’s hoping this lawsuit will bring about better treatment and understanding for LGBT officers within the police department.”
Police spokesperson Lt. John Stanford, said the “department treats all members equally and fairly regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. One’s sexual orientation has no bearing on their ability to be a police officer. Therefore, the department would not condone or tolerate anyone treating someone (officer or civilian) unfairly. And this is the first time I’m hearing of any incident that would suggest that someone on this job was treated differently.”