Bias Countersuit Lands Officer Early Retirement and Hefty Settlement

Image Credit: Rochester MN Police K9 Unit Facebook Page

ROCHESTER, Minn. — An agreement has been made between the city of Rochester and a Rochester Police Officer who claimed discrimination over alleged bias in a Facebook post.

The Rochester city council announced the city reached a $1 million settlement with the officer.

Police Lt. Elisa Umpierre, 51, was placed on administrative leave after the police department received complaints regarding two separate posts on Facebook.

According to Jeff Kiger at the Post Bulletin, Umpierre, a 25-year veteran, made comments the department determined shows “a bias… that impairs her ability to perform her job as a police supervisor.”

“One of the comments was made on a post about a controversial police shooting of a minority suspect elsewhere in the country,” Kiger wrote about the initial posts. “Her comment said, ‘None of this is going to change AT ALL until white cops finally say it needs to change. How (expletive) up is that???!!!’”. . . “Umpierre wrote on Sept. 4, 2016, ‘Why isn’t this all over the news? History shows, sometimes laws have to be challenged and broken for the good of the masses. I stand with history on the side of the protesters!!!!!’” 

After the complaint was made, Umpierre was placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation was concluded, but in March 2017, Umpierre filed her own bias complaint against the department with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights during the ongoing investigation.

According to the Star Tribune, Umpierre believes the city discriminated against her because she held a politically different view and spoke up when she believed an officer was passed up for promotion because they were a minority.

Despite the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act preventing Minnesota League of Cities attorney Jana O’Leary Sullivan, who is  representing the city of Rochester, from commenting on the specifics of Umpierre’s complaint, she did deny any “wrongdoing” on the city’s part.

O’Leary Sullivan told Alpha News the conclusion of the case came as a result of both parties seeking to avoid a long, costly, drawn out case and instead working to find a quicker solution to the matter.

“As the agreement states, the city does not admit any liability or wrongdoing relating to Ms. Umpierre’s complaint,” O’Leary Sullivan told Alpha News. “Also, Ms. Umpierre retired her employment, effective September 19, 2017. The amount of the settlement reflects Umpierre’s annual salary, her tenure with the City, and the fact that the parties wanted to bridge her to retirement. The city thanks Ms. Umpierre for her years of service and wishes her a happy retirement.”  

Per the settlement agreement, Umpierre must withdraw her complaint and the city will pay her $600,000, her attorney’s Halunen Law $400,000, and any mediation fees. Umpierre will also retain her pension.

Preya Samsundar

Preya Samsundar was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities this Spring with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Strategic Communications. Preya has previously worked on several State Campaign Races.