A reverse discrimination lawsuit brought by white police lieutenant Christopher Barrella has been decided, resulting in a federal jury choosing to award him with $1.35 million.
This judgment comes after he was reportedly passed over as Chief for a Hispanic officer with less experience and lower test scores.
According to CBS New York, the Long Island officer brought the lawsuit against the village of Freeport when the town’s first black mayor, Andrew Hardwick, was in office.
Hardwick was a defendant in the case, but has not issued a comment to the press regarding the credentials of the reverse discrimination suit, nor has he shared his thoughts on the judgment.
Barrella contended that Hardwick terminated and demoted “qualified, experienced, non-Hispanic whites” and that Hardwick “illegally chose Miguel Bermudez” for Police Chief.
The jury agreed. “It’s really a good feeling to be validated,” Barrella said, “and I am incredibly appreciative that the jury saw it my way.”
Barrella’s attorney, Amanda Fugazy, called the judgment a “wakeup call.”
“I think that this is a wakeup call for all employers, everybody is protected under the US’s anti-discrimination law,” said Fugazy.
However, not everyone saw the decision as a just one.
The current mayor, Robert Kennedy, spoke to the press shortly after the judgment was issued, and said he believes the jury “got it wrong” when they awarded seven figures to Barrella.
“I have the utmost confidence in Chief Bermudez, who’s probably one of the finest chiefs of Freeport village that we’ve ever had,” Kennedy said.
A Freeport spokesperson claims that the village plans to repeal the reverse discrimination ruling.
Newsday shared a bit more on how Barrella and Bermudez stacked up:
The 55-year-old Bermudez had four more years on the job in Freeport than Barrella, but no college, while Barrella has two college degrees. Barrella also scored highest on the test for chief; Bermudez came in third. Bermudez had been a fellow firefighter with Hardwick for many years in Freeport.
“Based on this history and relationship, Hardwick trusted Bermudez,” said US District Court Judge Arthur Spatt in Central Islip in an earlier decision, while noting that Hardwick “did not know Barrella before being named mayor in 2009.”
This has certainly been a good year for anti-affirmative action people. Not only are juries starting to see the reverse discrimination argument, courts are as well. In April, the US Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s affirmative action ban.
Do you think that reverse discrimination exists in our society, and if so, is it as prevalent as discrimination against minorities?