A Black Oregon Man Told His Boss About Discrimination At Work. Then He Was Arrested.

Michael Fesser said West Linn offi­cers unlaw­ful­ly sur­veilled him and then false­ly arrest­ed him after he com­plained to his boss about racial dis­crim­i­na­tion.
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.

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West Linn police began inves­ti­gat­ing Fesser in February 2017 after Fesser raised con­cerns to his boss, Eric Benson, own­er of A&B Towing, that he was being racial­ly dis­crim­i­nat­ed against at work.

According to sep­a­rate court doc­u­ments, Fesser said the dis­crim­i­na­tion includ­ed cowork­ers’ call­ing him racial slurs. After he raised his con­cerns, Benson con­tact­ed West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus, his friend, and per­suad­ed to look into alle­ga­tions that Fesser had stolen from the com­pa­ny, accord­ing to the law­suit.

The suit said the theft alle­ga­tions were false and unsub­stan­ti­at­ed.

But with the approval of West Linn police Lt. Mike Stradley, Detectives Tony Reeves and Mike Boyd used audio and video equip­ment to watch Fesser while he was at work, accord­ing to the suit. The sur­veil­lance was “con­duct­ed with­out a war­rant or prob­a­ble cause” and did not result in any evi­dence that Fesser was steal­ing from his employ­er, the law­suit stat­ed.

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