Much like many of you reading this, Michael Fesser is black.
Being black, our experiences in the workplace tend to differ from our unseasoned counterparts. Do Garrett and Zoey have to put up with being called racial slurs by their coworkers? Probably not, but Fesser told his boss that he did.
Because he’s black.
His boss, Eric Benson, owner of A&B Towing, then hit up his boy Terry Timeus—who just so happens to be a police chief—and instead of informing him of Fesser’s allegations, Benson persuaded him to look into whether or not their token negro was stealing from the company. Because what better way to avoid a potential racial discrimination lawsuit?
(Why did this happen? Because he’s black? I dunno.)
This is where things get interesting, because the West Linn Police Department then proceeded to conduct both audio and video surveillance of Fesser—without a warrant or probable cause—while he was at work. And within days, he was arrested based on “false representations” produced by the boys in blue.
Oh, and after spending eight hours at the police station, Fesser learned that he had been fired from his job. Thanks, Eric!
Which brings us to Fesser’s inevitable lawsuit that somehow ties all this together.
From NBC News:
A black man from Oregon sued the city of West Linn alleging that police officers unlawfully surveilled him at work and then falsely arrested him in retaliation for having raised complaints with his employer about racial discrimination.
Michael Fesser of Portland claimed in the suit, an amended version of which was filed last month in U.S. District Court in Portland, that the incident left him suffering from emotional distress and resulted in economic damages. He sued the city and several members of the West Linn Police Department for false arrest, malicious prosecution, defamation and invasion of privacy.
The lawsuit alleges that the police surveillance was not only intrusive as fuck, but failed to produce any evidence whatsoever that Fesser had committed theft at his job.
There’s also this juicy nugget:
During the litigation in the lawsuit against his employer, Fesser learned that the West Linn police investigation into the alleged theft began as a favor to his former boss, according to the suit. Text messages revealed during the legal proceedings showed that [West Linn police detective Tony Reeves] and Benson discussed the investigation.
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Fesser received $600,000 in his lawsuit against the city of West Linn and his suit against his former employer netted him another $415,000.
“This was not about money for him,” Paul Buchanan, Fesser’s attorney, said. “This was about that they should not be allowed to do this.”
As for the West Linn Police department, they’ve refused to admit any liability after cashing Fesser out.
“The City of West Linn and the West Linn Police Department do not tolerate any acts of discrimination or disparate treatment by its employees,” the department said in a press release. “In 2018, when the allegations were first reported, an internal investigation was conducted and swift and appropriate disciplinary personnel action was taken.”
All of this because Fesser is black. Imagine that.