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White Firefighter Lands $450K Settlement in New Jersey Race Discrimination Case

firemanWhile most discrimination cases involve minorities as the victims, New Jersey law is clear that any form of racial discrimination can be illegal if it is severe or pervasive enough. One of the key differences between a “stereotypical” racial discrimination case (in which the victim is a person of color) and a “reverse discrimination” case (in which the victim is white) is that the white person who alleges discrimination has to clear a higher hurdle than a person of color in order to pursue his case. While that hurdle is higher, it is not impossible. If you are a white employee and believe that you were clearly a victim of racial discrimination, reach out to a knowledgeable New Jersey race discrimination lawyer about your situation.

In one recent case, a white firefighter was able to land a $450,000 settlement in his race discrimination case, according to nj.com. The case, filed by a firefighter named Jeffrey, arose from employment practices within the fire department in one Union County city. The fire chief was African-American. Allegedly, the chief asked African-American firefighters their feelings about taking orders from a white man, but he never asked white firefighters their opinions about taking orders from an African-American. The chief also allegedly committed other discriminatory acts, such as facilitating extra overtime for African-American firefighters while scaling back Jeffrey’s overtime.

The lawsuit further alleged that the chief engaged in tactics meant to block Jeffrey from becoming chief because he did not want a white person in that position, according to the report. Ultimately, the city settled the case, agreeing to pay Jeffrey nearly a half-million dollars in exchange for his ending the discrimination litigation.

The New Jersey courts ruled several decades ago that the criteria for establishing “reverse” discrimination are more demanding than “stereotypical” discrimination. The “rationale supporting the rebuttable presumption of discrimination embodied in the prima facie elements does not apply.” In other words, when a white employee alleges he was a victim of discrimination, he must “show that he has been victimized by an ‘unusual employer who discriminates against the majority.'”

There are ways of meeting this standard, though. As an example, in 2014, a federal court allowed a warehouse employee to sue his employer for race discrimination. The white employee worked in a predominantly Hispanic workplace. According to an nj.com report covering that lawsuit, a Hispanic supervisor once complimented the white employee’s work by opining, “not bad for a white boy.” The employee also heard Spanish-language slurs like “gringo” and another word that was a derogatory anti-gay term. These allegations were enough to meet this “unusual employer” standard, according to that court.

Whether you are white, African-American, or another race, it is possible to be a victim of illegal racial discrimination in the workplace. If that happens, you should take action to pursue your rights. The hardworking New Jersey race discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates have spent many years helping our clients achieve the results they need in their racial discrimination cases. Reach us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can help you.

More blog posts:

North Jersey Jury Awards an African-American Police Lieutenant $1.2M After He Was Improperly Denied a Promotion, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, April 25, 2018

Sometimes Even a Supervisor’s Single Racial Slur Can Be Enough in a Discrimination or Harassment Case, Third Circuit Rules, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, July 21, 2017

Photo Credit: 12019, [CC0 License], via Pixabay

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