LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas State Police Commission promoted a woman to major, 24 hours after her attorney filed a lawsuit claiming reverse discrimination.
Stacie Rhoads was promoted to Major Thursday, during a commission meeting.
Attorney Tom Mars represents Rhoads and claims the Arkansas State Police Colonel launched a “multi-faceted campaign” to get Captain Paulette Ward promoted instead.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday afternoon.
It claims Governor Asa Hutchinson made personal phone calls to at least three ASP commissioners to get Ward, an African American woman, promoted.
“[Bryant] intentionally acted in concert with members of his Command Staff and Governor to engage in overt reverse discrimination,” the suit alleges.
The lawsuit claims State Police opened an investigation into Rhoads about a so-called missing rifle but Mars said the rifle was never missing.
Governor Hutchinson said in an interview in February that Mars was trying to intervene unfairly.
“There is the review of a black female trooper that’s been recommended for promotion,” Hutchinson said in February.
Mars said in February that he was trying to expose wrongdoing.
“Their purpose is to uncover and to have someone correct these unlawful employment practices. They’re not just wrong, they’re illegal,” Mars said in February.
Hutchinson said Mars was trying to create the same controversy that surrounded him when Mars was a state police director.
If Captain Ward would have been promoted today, she would have been the first African American woman to hold the rank of major.
The United States Department of Justice placed ASP under a consent decree decades ago to ensure African Americans and women were not being passed up on promotions. That consent decree expired in 2006.
The Attorney General’s Office said its reviewing the lawsuit to determine the appropriate next step.
To view the full complaint click HERE.