The City of West Linn, OR, must pay at least $100,000 in back pay to former officer Tom Newberry, who was fired last year for controversial Facebook posts.
The arbitrator—Portland-based attorney Eric Lindauer—concluded that Newberry's firing in February 2017 was justified. But he also ruled that the city should bear some financial burden because Newberry's social media use was common knowledge in the police department, but it did nothing to address the behavior until it was reported by the media in July 2016, according to OregonLive.com.
Before making his July ruling, the arbitrator reviewed 131 Facebook posts made by Newberry while on and off duty from February to July 2016. Lindauer found that some posts showed racial bias against African Americans and hostility toward the Black Lives Matter movement, and reinforced public perception that police officers are biased against black people. Some of the posts included references to African Americans and Black Lives Matter supporters as "ghetto rats," "cockroaches," "morons," and other insults.
Newberry, 65, is a former Portland officer who had been with the West Linn department for at least seven years at the time he was placed on leave.
The city may appeal the ruling to the Oregon Employment Relations Board.