(CHICAGO) — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is named in a federal lawsuit from 11 of the city’s police officers, alleging that the mayor unlawfully removed them from his security detail when he took office in 2011.
The officers, all of white or Hispanic descent, claim Emanuel, who was elected mayor in 2011, replaced senior members of his security detail with volunteers who contributed to the mayor’s campaign. They also allege that African-American officers with less seniority were given preferential treatment by being kept on Emanuel’s team.
Comments regarding the lawsuit were not granted to ABC News from either the city of Chicago or the mayoral office of Rahm Emanuel.
Jonathan R. Ksiazek and Edward M. Fox, the attorneys representing the 11 officers suing the city told ABC News that the demotion was all political. Though they could not confirm, the attorneys insist, “several of the officers who replaced our clients had connections with Emanuel or volunteered on his campaign.”
The lawsuit contends that security detail transfers violated Chicago’s Shakman decree that prohibits firings, demotions, transfers or other punishment of government employees stemming from political motivation.
“Under Shakman decree,” Fox says, “our clients have protected position. They cannot be fired or demoted for political reasons.”
The plaintiffs are suing the City of Chicago and Brian Thompson, the commander of the security detail who is responsible for demoting the tenured officers.
Ksiazek tells ABC News that Thompson worked as one of two commanders under the previous mayor, Richard Daley. “Shortly after Emanuel was sworn in, he made Thompson full commander of the security specialist unit 542 and the other guy was demoted.”
The attorney’s suggest that Thompson mustered up “Emanuel’s favor in some fashion in order to maintain his job.”
Though Ksiazek and Fox would not give details, they suggested, “Cmdr. Thompson made a comment prior to demotion of their clients,” and they insinuate that the comment could have been skewed as a racial jab furthering the plaintiff’s claim that the demotions could have been racially motivated.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Mayor Richard Daley, Rahm Emanuel’s predecessor, who served as mayor from 1989 until 2011, interviewed the 11 officers for promotions to security specialist before they were assigned to the security detail. Those suing Emanuel expected that their promotions would stick once Daley left office; however, that was not necessarily the case.
During Emanuel’s transition into the mayoral seat, the 11 promoted officers who were transferred out of their positions were replaced by officers who were reportedly not required to follow the same formal application process that they had to undergo in order to receive their respective ranks.
“Our clients had to go through a series of interviews and a normal application process,” say the attorneys.
“From our understanding, the members that Emanuel replaced for the security detail did not have any formal application process.”
Those involved in the suit claim that the transfers from the mayor’s security detail resulted in a demotion of title as well as a reduction of pay and benefits. In response, the plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages and reversal of the job transfers.
All, except for one retired officer, want their jobs back, according to Fox. He explains that if city officials aren’t willing to give them their titles back, the officers are at least entitled to the pay that they received before being taken off the mayor’s security detail. “They want the job that they are entitled to.” Fox continues, “They are good jobs and they are the jobs that they wanted, there is no reason why they shouldn’t have them.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ruth Brown, Idaho Press-Tribune
David Goldman, CNN
Jeremy Diamond, CNN