LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A former firefighter with the city of Lansing has won a lawsuit over claims of a hostile work environment.
After a five day trial in the U.S. District Court in Kalamazoo that ended on Oct. 7, a jury awarded Michael Lynn Jr. $1 million.
Lynn is an activist in the Lansing community and has made claims that he faced discrimination and harassment on the job because of his race for years.
After winning in court, Lynn and his attorney say that it’s not about the money and they want the city to look at this as an opportunity to make some changes.
Lynn started working for the Lansing Fire Department in 2014.
Attorney Scott Batey says shortly after Lynn started with the department, he was harassed because he’s black.
They recall an incident where someone stuck a banana peel between the windshield wiper and front glass of the vehicle he was about to drive.
“It continued, he complained to numerous supervisors, nothing was done,” Batey said.
For Lynn, who has been vocal about alleged discriminatory behaviors, this has been a long time coming.
“It’s been six years of being told very publicly that I was lying, that I was just one unhappy person and thinks that way,” Lynn said.
Lynn was fired from the Lansing Fire Department in 2021 for violating policies. The two say the verdict Friday is separate from a wrongful termination claim. They added that is currently in a grievance hearing process.
“I believe he’s going to get a ruling in his grievance in the next month or so, and once we see that, we’ll review it and see how we want to proceed,” Batey said.
Lynn and Batey said they ultimately want meaningful action and hope this is a step in the right direction.
“You know, there’s been nothing really done about it even up until this point, so I think that this will show a lot of people who may be in circles that are not being told the absolute truth, that there is a problem here, and that’s really what all of this is about, is fixing the issue,” Lynn said.
Lynn also wants to put this issue to rest, and wants the best for the city of Lansing.
“I don’t want to drag this out any longer and have the city hurt anymore financially or emotionally,” Lynn said. “So I think that this is a point in time where we can really get to the bottom of some things. Maybe even sit down and have some conversation about really making some change and not just, you know, throwing propaganda out here. I think this is that moment.”
6 News also reached out to Lansing’s city attorney, who said they think the jury made the wrong call.
“The City is disappointed in this verdict and we disagree with it. The City Attorney’s Office will work with our outside counsel in this matter to review all our options moving forward, including the potential to appeal,” said Jim Smiertka, the Lansing City Attorney.