Arlington Heights to pay ex-cop $275,000 to settle discrimination lawsuit

  • Arlington Heights is paying $275,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former police officer who alleged he was discriminated against by fellow members of the department on the basis of race and national origin.

    Arlington Heights is paying $275,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former police officer who alleged he was discriminated against by fellow members of the department on the basis of race and national origin. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
 
Updated 9/23/2021 9:45 AM

Arlington Heights will pay an ex-police officer $275,000 to settle claims he was discriminated against by colleagues because of his Assyrian and Iraqi heritage.

The settlement comes 11 months after Anfiny J. Eshoo, a patrol officer from May 2016 until his termination in January 2020, filed suit against the village. In the federal filing, Eshoo alleged he was subjected to repeated and continuous comments about his national origin and race, including being called and referred to as the "Taliban," among other slurs.

 

The monetary payment -- with the Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency picking up $200,000 and the village covering the rest -- includes compensatory damages, wages, and attorney's fees and costs. The amount was agreed to as part of a general release and settlement agreement approved Monday on the village board's consent agenda.

Five days after the check clears, Eshoo will dismiss the lawsuit and withdraw a pending grievance that was set for hearing by an arbitrator Dec. 16, under terms of the agreement.

Both sides said the agreement is a compromise and settlement of disputed claims, and that payment by the village shouldn't be construed to be an admission of liability. The village denies the allegations, but "intends merely to avoid further litigation with respect to the plaintiff's claims," the agreement states.

"As an attorney who settles cases all the time, that's not an admission of guilt or innocence. It's just a settlement to put the disputed issues to rest," said Mayor Tom Hayes, who added that he couldn't speak beyond what is stated in the nine-page agreement.

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In the October 2020 lawsuit, Eshoo alleged he was commonly referred to as a terrorist by co-workers -- including former Police Chief Gerald Mourning on one occasion.

Eshoo said he often found stickers, cartoons and other items reflecting slurs in his mailbox, and officers would play Muslim music on their computers around him, according to the suit. He also alleged he was denied promotions because of his background.

In April 2019, the police department brought a complaint against Eshoo in which his bosses said he failed to properly enforce an order of protection. He was later placed on administrative leave amid an internal affairs probe in which he was accused of failing to properly conduct a preliminary investigation of a domestic battery, according to the suit.

Eshoo was fired in January 2020.

Under terms of the settlement, the village agrees to formally reinstate Eshoo to employment, but then he immediately will be placed on unpaid administrative leave until his resignation Jan. 6, 2022.

The village will place a resignation letter in his personnel file, change all notations in village records to reflect that he resigned in good standing, and remove all references to his earlier termination, according to the settlement.

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