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Capitol Police Discrimination Case Hits Possible Legal Snag

More than 250 current and former black Capitol Police officers are now uncertain when or if their discrimination cases against the department will continue, just one month after celebrating a victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The U.S. Attorney’s office — which is representing the department — filed a “petition for rehearing— Wednesday claiming that more than 250 officers were “improperly— listed on the notice of appeal. More than 300 officers are involved in the lawsuit, but the petition argues that attorney Joe Gebhardt only had the right to represent about 50 of them.

The petition promises to delay a case that has dragged on for seven years. Led by former Capitol Police Lt. Sharon Blackmon-Malloy, the officers claim that they were denied promotions and treated unfairly because of a hostile work environment.

More than two years ago, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the cases of most of the officers, ruling that they hadn’t exhausted Congress’ in-house remedies. That decision was overturned on July 31 by a three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals.

In their petition, attorneys for the Capitol Police ask the same panel to outline which officers are affected by their decision and can thus restart their cases in the District Court.

Gebhardt listed all of the officers in his notice of appeal, citing Blackmon-Malloy’s wishes as president of the U.S. Capitol Black Police Association. But the U.S. Attorney’s office argues that she didn’t have that authority.

Gebhardt called it a “technicality that is not based in reality.—

The association, he said, “is the sponsor of the case and Sharon Blackmon-Malloy was the lead plaintiff at the time she was president of the association.—

The case, he said, is also meant to be a class-action lawsuit, though it hasn’t yet gotten that classification.

“It was clear we represented them,— he said.

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