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LAS Secures Decision Allowing Port Authority Discrimination Case to Proceed

The Legal Aid Society and Winston & Strawn LLP celebrated a decision rendered in Holden et. al. v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey litigation filed in 2017 against the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) challenging a discriminatory policy of falsely accusing gay and gender nonconforming men of masturbating in the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) restrooms and arresting them on the false charges, as reported by Gay City News.

In the February 22, 2021 summary judgment decision, the Court found that plaintiffs had “proffered evidence to establish that the PAPD officers engaged in a pattern of policing specifically targeting men perceived as gay, bisexual, or otherwise gender non-conforming for arrest without probable cause on charges for Public Lewdness after using the PABT men’s restrooms.” The Court further found that a jury could conclude that this discriminatory pattern was the result of PAPD’s failure “to train or to supervise and discipline plainclothes officers, despite awareness of past issues.”

“This decision affirms the discriminatory treatment our clients have been suffering for years at the hands of the Port Authority Police Department,” said Molly Griffard, a Legal Fellow with The Legal Aid Society’s Cop Accountability Project. “These illegal practices have been previously raised with the PAPD but, to date, the department has refused to offer training or discipline officers to curb these problematic tactics. The PAPD must be held to account for these policies that grossly infringe on our clients’ most basic civil rights.”