Fired Muslim THP trooper get $100K in damages

U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell has ruled that former Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper De’Ossie Dingus is entitled to $100,000 for wrongful termination and years of discrimination because of his Muslim religion, reports the News Sentinel.

“He was treated as a threat,” the judge wrote. “He was labeled as a possible terrorist-in-the-making. He was subjected to humiliating circumstances. All because he is a Sunni Muslim.”

Dingus, a military veteran who worked for the THP for a decade, was fired in 2010 after military liaison Maj. Kevin Taylor called Dingus a potential terrorist based on a brief encounter in November 2009 when 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.

…Campbell’s ruling notes the terrorist claims were the last in a long string of mistreatments of Dingus by supervisors because of his faith.

…Campbell had already ruled in Dingus’ favor, but there was one big legal problem when it came to damages. Rather than going to a psychiatrist or a therapist as a prelude to proving emotional distress or a doctor to corroborate stress-induced illness, Dingus hustled to pay his bills and filed a claim with the Tennessee Civil Service Commission.

He won $154,000 in back pay and benefits as a result of that claim but had to agree to take early retirement. Attorney Knight insisted the Department of Safety needed to be held accountable, and a financial punch for damages was the only way to do that. But the law requires some showing of psychological and medical damages.

Campbell initially awarded Dingus $1, but the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year Dingus’ case was so “egregious” it didn’t matter whether he had proved psychological fallout via traditional means. The harm he suffered, the court opined, was obvious. That ruling led to this week’s reconsideration of damages by Campbell.