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Police sergeant wins reverse discrimination suit

The St. Louis Police Officers Association president, who is also a police sergeant, was recently awarded $620,000 in actual and punitive damages in a reverse racial discrimination suit. The workplace discrimination suit, filed in Jan. 2012, named a variety of defendants, including the police department, the Police Board of Commissioners and the mayor. It was alleged that the man was passed over for a position at the Police Academy because they were specifically looking to give a black woman the job.

Based on information from the suit, the academy director had informed the man that he should not bother to apply for the position. The director reportedly told the man, who eventually filed the suit, that a higher-up wanted to, "bring color" to the academy. When the man applied anyway, he was not requested to come in for an interview. A black woman eventually was chosen to fill the position, but the man stressed that the suit was not against her.

After deliberating for four hours, the jury reached a verdict in favor of the police sergeant who filed the suit. He was awarded $200,000 in actual damages for intentional race discrimination. The remaining $420,000 were punitive damages split between some of the defendants. The St. Louis Police Department has stated that the Board of Police Commissioners was made aware of the ruling and that they will eventually make recommendations on how to move forward.

Racial discrimination of any type or for any reason is not legal. If someone was passed over for a job or promotion due to their race, they may have legal recourse. A lawyer could help them understand their rights and pursue legal remedies in relation to their situation.

Source: St. Louis Today, "Federal jury awards St. Louis officer $620,000 in racial discrimination suit", Margaret Gillerman and Christine Byers, August 21, 2013

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