Former Golden Valley police chief claims city fired him because he’s white 

The lawsuit, which seeks at least $75,000 in damages, accuses city leaders of violating the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against Nadeau based on race.

Scott Nadeau addresses the City Council during a Feb. 15, 2022 meeting. (City of Golden Valley)

Former interim Golden Valley Police Chief Scott Nadeau, a white male, claims in a federal lawsuit filed last week that he was effectively fired because of his race.

The lawsuit, which seeks at least $75,000 in damages, accuses city leaders of violating the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against Nadeau based on race. It also accuses Mayor Shep Harris of defamation because of comments he made during a March 2022 City Council meeting.

“Plaintiff is a white male who was performing his job at a satisfactory level, exceeding the performance expectations of Defendant when he was terminated, then replaced by a black male for the express purpose of increasing racial diversity, a fact City officials boasted publicly about pursuing and accomplishing as an organization,” the lawsuit says.

It cites a past example of the city intentionally seeking “black candidates over white candidates in the Police Department.”

“While the goal of achieving diversity in leadership has recognized value, terminating the high performing, extremely experienced, and proven Police Chief Plaintiff Nadeau with no justification or purpose other than to achieve diversity constitutes an adverse employment action based on race and/or gender,” the lawsuit argues.

‘Find negative information’

Nadeau, who previously served as police chief in Columbia Heights and Maplewood, came out of retirement in 2021 to serve as interim chief. The lawsuit says he was asked to apply for the permanent position, which he did in December 2021.

Jessie Smith, a defendant in the lawsuit who chaired one of the hiring panels, “publicly posted a request for the public to lobby for either of the two black finalists,” according to the lawsuit.

“Defendant Smith also publicly requested the public to find negative information about Plaintiff Nadeau,” the lawsuit says.

Then, at a March 1, 2022 City Council meeting, Mayor Harris “made a series of comments encouraging the City to engage in race based hiring,” the lawsuit explains.

“Those comments included claiming that the Golden Valley Police Department was racist, corrupt, and called for an investigation into the Police Department. The allegations made by Defendant Harris included accusations of unethical and criminal activity by Plaintiff Nadeau. Defendant Harris contacted media members prior to the meeting in an attempt to maximize publication of his statements,” it continues.

Harris also stated publicly during that meeting that he was supporting Virgil Green for police chief, the lawsuit claims. Green was ultimately named chief after Nadeau resigned.

“Having no other option, Plaintiff Nadeau officially resigned the following day, informing Defendant [City Manager Tim] Cruikshank that Plaintiff Nadeau had no choice based upon the comments at the meeting,” the lawsuit contends.

“Specifically, Plaintiff Nadeau noted that given Defendant Harris’s comments, unchallenged by the City Attorney, Councilmembers, and Defendant Cruikshank, it was clear that Plaintiff Nadeau was terminated, unwanted as the Chief of Police, and that Plaintiff Nadeau’s reputation, integrity, and professional credibility were publicly questioned,” it says.

The city said in a statement that it will “aggressively defend this lawsuit,” does not make hiring decisions based on race, and conducted a fair search for a new police chief.

“Mr. Nadeau publicly stated that the Police Chief search process was ‘transparent, community-centered and community-involved,’ and that intimidation and racism had not been factors,” the city said. “Golden Valley Police Officers at all ranks are highly qualified and valued public servants.”

 

Anthony Gockowski
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Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and wrote for the Daily Caller.