PA sergeant files discrimination charge against city

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Port Arthur police officer has filed a charge of discrimination against the city.

Sgt. Cory Cole, who is white and an officer for 12 years, was promoted to deputy chief/major in April 2017 by then PAPD Chief Patrick Melvin. Cole was among six who were promoted to higher positions within the department.

Melvin later dropped him down in rank to sergeant.

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Houston based attorney Clayton Craighead said he filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal employment Opportunity Commission on Cole’s behalf on Jan. 26.

The EEOC will investigate the allegation of discrimination. If they find the allegation is founded, they can either file a lawsuit against the city on Cole’s behalf or issue a right-to-sue letter, which gives Cole permission to file suit.

Craighead contends that Melvin was instructed by higher-ups to hire a person of color for that position. He refers to a portion of a city council meeting where then council member Willie “Bae” Lewis and District 2 Councilman Cal Jones questioned Port Arthur Fire Chief Larry Richard about the hiring of five captains and one engineer.

“Is it going to reflect the ethnic makeup of the community in hiring the positions you want to fill?” Lewis asked Richard, to which the fire chief explained that at that time the tests had not been given yet.

“You know how it is when you’re throwing, casting your net out there if you don’t pull back what you want you throw it back and cast it farther until you get what you want,” Lewis said.

Craighead, in speaking about Cole’s situation, said no one should be promoted or demoted to a position based on their skin color.

“It’s illegal under federal law,” Craighead said.