A federal judge has deemed the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security guilty of discrimination in the firing of a Sunni Muslim state trooper, according to the News Sentinel.
U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell found the agency violated the rights of De’Ossie Dingus by firing him in 2010 after a military liaison dubbed the 10-year Tennessee Highway Patrol veteran a budding terrorist without any proof.
Military liaison Maj. Kevin Taylor labeled Dingus a potential terrorist after a brief encounter in November 2009 in which Dingus complained about the airing of a video on the radicalization of children during a training class that was supposed to teach troopers how to recognize weapons of mass destruction.
Taylor claimed Dingus was disruptive and belligerent during the class and confrontational afterward. But none of the 35 other troopers in the training class backed up Taylor’s claim. An internal investigation showed none of Dingus’ co-workers shared Taylor’s view. Most said they’d never once heard Dingus mention his faith.
But THP commanders fired Dingus anyway, relying on a psychological evaluation even the examiner said was based entirely on Taylor’s conclusion.
…The judge ruled safety department officials were “all too eager to accept Maj. Taylor’s belief that because Mr. Dingus was a Muslim, he was dangerous.”
The judge also credited testimony showing Dingus had been a target of religious discrimination from the start of his career at the THP in 2004.
…She did not award Dingus the roughly $300,000 he sought in damages, saying he did not file any documents to support his claims of pain and suffering.
Knight and the rest of Dingus’ legal team are asking Campbell to award more than $150,000 in attorneys fees to be paid by the agency