A white police officer in Hastings has now filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit, after he alleges he was discriminated against after he took a genetic test and found out he had African ancestry.

MLive reports that Sgt. Cleon Brown is suing the City of Hastings, the City Manager, and the Police Chief, Deputy Chief and a Sergeant. Brown says that he took an Ancestry.com genetic test that determined he was 18% black. After he revealed this information to his co-workers in the department, he alleges that they harassed him for it in various ways.

In one case, Brown says Police Chief Jeff Pratt called him “Kunte”, a reference to the character from the novel “Roots”. At Christmas, a figurine of a black Santa Claus with “18%” written on it was left in his stocking.

Brown, who was hired by Hastings in 1998, says that this and other conduct constitutes a civil rights violation, and a violation of the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act. The city of Hastings, however, says that these incidents were simply “joking and banter”, in many cases instigated by Brown himself. The City also says that they’re not sure if Brown qualifies as part of a protected class, simply based on a genetic test.

An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint was filed by Brown in January, alleging discrimination.

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