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North Jersey Police Lieutenant Obtains $300K Settlement in Racial Discrimination Case

A multi-year veteran of a New Jersey police department recently obtained a $300,000 settlement in order to end his racial discrimination case. The officer’s complaint centered on a combination of racially offensive behaviors and the department’s failure to take proper action in response to his reporting those inappropriate actions. If you’ve been a victim of racial discrimination, you should contact an experienced New Jersey race discrimination attorney, who can help you pursue your case and also make vital decisions like whether to accept or decline a settlement offer from your employer.

The officer in the case, Washington, was a lieutenant in the police department. The lieutenant, who was African-American, had been with the police department since 1989 but began noticing certain problems on the job. There was the racist graffiti allegedly scrawled in the police headquarters bathroom. There was also a white officer’s alleged statement that he would never take orders from an African-American sergeant, which was problematic because the officer didn’t say “black”; he used a racial epithet instead, according to a report by

Washington brought these incidents of racially hostile behavior to Internal Affairs, but the department did very little, according to the lieutenant. The department allegedly took no action against the epithet-using officer other than to transfer him to another assignment.

Frustrated with the lack of decisive action, Washington approached the captain in charge of Internal Affairs. For that, he alleged that he was suspended for insubordination.

This led Washington, who was the police department’s highest-ranking African-American, to sue in the fall of 2015. The lieutenant’s legal action claimed that the department retaliated against him for trying to expose racist behaviors like the graffiti and the white officer’s epithet. The lieutenant’s case also claimed that the department wrongfully punished him for protesting the lack of action taken by department leadership after he reported the incidents, according to the report.

Ultimately, the city agreed to settle the case for $300,000. The lieutenant’s successful settlement in this case is yet another reminder of what it takes to put together a strong discrimination case. In Washington’s case, the underlying acts that triggered his action were racist graffiti in the bathroom and one white officer’s use of a racial slur. This, plus the retaliation that the lieutenant allegedly suffered as a result of complaining about the racist behaviors, was enough to make his case strong enough to secure the settlement he obtained.

Last year, a federal court ruled that two African-American workers could pursue a racial discrimination lawsuit based upon an isolated use of the “N-word.” The courts in that case concluded that even just one utterance of the “N-word” could be enough to be sufficiently severe to meet the “severe or pervasive” standard created by federal law for a hostile work environment.

If you have faced racial slurs or other discrimination at work, consult the aggressive New Jersey discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys have been helping workers in this state for many years who have been harmed as a result of race, sex, religion, disability, and other forms of improper discrimination. Contact 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:

Racial Slurs, Racist Symbols, and What You Need to Succeed in a New Jersey Hostile Work Environment Case, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Jan. 29, 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

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