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Men: Objecting to state police diversity push led to penalty

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Posted at 7:39 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 19:39:16-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Two white men said they were the victims of illegal retaliation after objecting to efforts to diversify the Michigan State Police.

Michael Caldwell, who was demoted, and Robert Hahn, who was fired, filed lawsuits Monday in federal court in Grand Rapids. They said they voiced objections after state police Director Joe Gasper last fall told command officers that the department was “way too white and way too male.”

Caldwell and Hahn said racial and gender preferences in public employment violate the state and U.S. constitutions, especially a 2006 state referendum. The lawsuits name Gasper and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as defendants.

“We haven’t fully reviewed them and the allegations made therein,” state police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said. “I can confirm that in late March, following an internal investigation that revealed they violated department policy related to the promotion process, Robert Hahn was terminated from employment and Michael Caldwell was demoted and reassigned.”

The lawsuits were filed by attorney Jim Fett, who specializes in challenging public employment practices.

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