BECKLEY, W.Va. -- A federal judge has ordered mediation in the case of a former Sophia police officer who says he was racially harassed then fired.
U.S. District Judge Irene Berger has scheduled trial in Beckley for July 15, 2013. But she ordered the parties last week to discuss settlements by late June.
Any party who fails to negotiate in good faith could face sanctions.
Police Chief Tomi Peck and other defendants say they did nothing wrong in firing the town's only black officer after six months on the job.
Damon McDowell sued Peck, Town Council and others, claiming he was racially harassed and falsely accused of wrongdoing throughout his employment.
McDowell says the harassment included hiding paperwork so he missed court appearances and telling jokes with racial epithets in his presence.