Former officer's suit claims called into question
By Lisa Brody
After former Birmingham police officer Yacoub Iseid sued the police department in federal court in January of this year, alleging he was discriminated by the department due to his Arab ethnicity, a position statement from the city of Birmingham in response to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint made in 2021 by Iseid on the same charges indicate that he had never applied for promotions, he was not fired but resigned, and lied about several of the complaints made against the department in his 2024 lawsuit.
In the lawsuit filed in federal court this January, Iseid said he was repeatedly denied promotions due to his Palestinian background and had racist names hurled at him by his supervisor, among other defamatory claims. He further charged race and/or national origin were the motivating factors impeding his growth and promotion opportunities; his personal treatment; subjecting him to unnecessary evaluations; impeding his return to the force; and dismissal.
Iseid made the same allegations in an EEOC claim filed July 3, 2021, which Downtown Newsmagazine obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request to the city. He stated, “I began working at the above-named employer in 2014. I was last employed as an officer. Throughout my career I have been denied for promotion and subject to harassment. In July of 2019, I complained internally of my treatment, to no avail. I was sent for a Fitness of Duty. I asked Human Resources for the reason and was not given a reason. I was discharged on January 31, 2021.”
Although the city has declined to discuss Iseid's lawsuit, in its position paper response to the EEOC complaint, written by city of Birmingham labor attorney Gouri Sashital, the city stated that the allegations “are demonstrably false: he never applied for any promotions; he was never harassed; the fitness of duty complaints predated any alleged complaints; and he was not fired; he voluntarily resigned!”
Sashital laid out several examples where Iseid was reprimanded or suspended without pay, going back to 2014 and 2015, for disregarding direct orders from supervisors, attending an active shooter training in Georgia when he was explicitly ordered not to attend, causing car accidents while on duty, and other infractions. She stated that assignment to outside agencies, such as Special Investigations Unit or Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team, are special assignments, not promotions, without added pay or bonuses, and while he submitted a letter of interest, the teams did not choose him. He did not lose pay, benefits, status or rank. He was never eligible for a promotion, and there were no openings on the force when he was eligible.
The doctor who evaluated Iseid for fitness of duty determined he was not able to perform the essential job functions of a police officer. He noted that Iseid should be in short-term psychotherapy with a therapist who specializes in anger control management and police officers, and if he is permitted back to work, his behavior should be monitored closely by his command officers.
As for charges that he had experienced racism, the city determined it was important to investigate the allegation. However, when a meeting was set up with Iseid and attorneys, he failed to appear.
On November 16, 2020, Iseid wrote then-chief Mark Clemence, “While it has been a pleasure to serve as a police officer of the City of Birmingham, I regret to inform you that I will be stepping down from my position. My last day will be Sunday, 1/31/21.”
He had just completed a masters in computer and information systems and, according to the report, indicated to co-workers that he was resigning to take an IT position with General Motors.
Full documentation of Iseid's file was included in the city's response to the EEOC complaint.
The final resolution of the EEOC complaint was not indicated in the documents supplied in response to the publication's FOIA request to the city.