Gay Duluth officer files complaint against department

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DULUTH, Ga. - A Duluth police officer said he is fed up with the sexual harassment he faced on the job.

He believes he suffered discrimination from superiors and fellow officers because of his sexual orientation. He said it began several years ago when he told coworkers about his homosexuality.

The officer said he brought his concerns to the city and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a week later.

“The moment I brought my partner to the Christmas function, I heard Duluth officers behind me and their exact words were, ‘I knew he was queer,’” Officer Bobby Johnson told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh.

Johnson, who has been with the department since 2005, said that was hardly the worst of it.

“It was nonstop from the command staff, from the chief of police, down,” he said.

As an active officer, he was active in community outreach, including a teen driving safety course Channel 2 Action News covered in 2012.

But Johnson hasn’t worn his uniform since February. That’s when he opted for paid administrative leave after he filed his discrimination complaint.

Duluth offered Johnson a $20,000 settlement, but he rejected it.

“You’re talking about someone’s career, someone’s livelihood,” he said.

In response, an attorney for the city emailed a statement which says in part,

"The city is aware of the claims made by Mr. Johnson and disputes his allegations.  The city is prepared to vigorously defend against his claims, despite the fact that until yesterday, we believed this matter had been resolved through a settlement."

Johnson said he will continue to fight, hoping a resolution will get him back in uniform.

"There's no greater feeling than giving your service to others,” he said.