Jury Award Reminds Employers in New Jersey and Across the U.S. that Race Discrimination is Illegal

A California jury has issued a $1.1 million verdict in favor of an African-American firefighter who suffered unlawful race discrimination at work. In Jabari Jumaane v. City of Los Angeles, a 53-year-old man filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Fire Department alleging he became the victim of racial discrimination, retaliation, and a hostile work environment. According to his complaint, Jabari Jumaane was disciplined and suspended at least twice while employed as a fire inspector with the Los Angeles Fire Department after his superior officer falsified his performance evaluations. Jumaane also claims he took a voluntary demotion to firefighter after more than 27 years with the Department in an effort to avoid continued racial discrimination. His lawsuit was the second time the issue went before a Los Angeles jury. A 2007 jury verdict issued in favor of the City of Los Angeles was later overturned due to juror misconduct.

At trial, Jumaane testified that he was often subjected to racial slurs, jokes, and other verbal abuse at work. City officials alleged that Jumaane’s disciplinary history was entirely warranted and he invented his discrimination claims because he was dissatisfied with the Department’s disciplinary process. After six days of deliberations, jurors sided with Jumaane and ordered the City of Los Angeles to pay him $1.1 million. City officials are reportedly considering whether to appeal the jury’s verdict.

This case is not the first time the Los Angeles Fire Department has faced scrutiny over alleged race discrimination. The Fire Department was accused of systemic discrimination against African-Americans in the past. In addition, the City paid another firefighter $1.5 million in 2006 in order to avoid a potentially costly race discrimination trial.

Although this situation occurred in California, illegal race discrimination also occurs in New Jersey and across the rest of the nation. In fact, the United States Equal Opportunity Commission received more than 33,000 race discrimination complaints last year alone. In general, federal law prohibits an employer with more than 15 employees from discriminating against a worker based upon race or color when making hiring, firing, promotion, or other work-related decisions. Additionally, a superior officer, co-worker, or even a customer may not harass an employee based upon the worker’s race.

Do not hesitate to call the Resnick Law Group, P.C. at 973-781-1204 or (646) 867-7997 if you believe you were unlawfully discriminated against by an employer in New Jersey or New York. The skilled employment lawyers at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former workers in both New Jersey and New York with matters involving workplace rights violations. To discuss your case with a knowledgeable and experienced advocate, contact the Resnick Law Group through our website today.

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Exxon to Begin Offering Same-Sex Spousal Benefits in New Jersey and Across the U.S. Amid Allegations of Sexual Orientation Discrimination, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, December 3, 2013
Additional Resources:

Firefighter awarded $1.1 million in racial bias suit, by Hector Beccera, Los Angeles Times


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