Long Island, New York police lieutenant Christopher Barrella has been awarded $1.35 million by a federal jury in a racial discrimination lawsuit. Barrella, who is white, accused his native village of Freeport of hiring Hispanic officer Miguel Bermudez, who allegedly had lower test scores and less experience, over him for the position of police chief, according to the Inquisitr.
According to Newsday, however, Barrella’s allegations may not have been entirely accurate. Bermudez actually had four more years of job experience in Freeport, although he did not attend college while Barrella obtained two degrees. Bermudez also had an existing relationship with Andrew Hardwick, the mayor at the time of the hiring. The two had previously worked together as firefighters in Freeport.
Barrella’s attorney Amanda Fugazy explained that the case should be viewed as an example that discrimination can affect all races.
“I think that this is a wakeup call for all employers; everybody is protected under the U.S. anti-discrimination law,” Fugazy said.
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The current mayor of the town, Robert Kennedy, did not agree with the federal jury’s ruling.
“I have the utmost confidence in Chief Bermudez, who’s probably one of the finest chiefs of Freeport village that we’ve ever had,” said Kennedy, according to CBS New York.
The case is expected to be appealed.
Although lawsuits alleging discrimination towards Caucasian individuals are much less prevalent than those alleging discrimination towards minorities, there have been several instances in which white people like Barrella have been awarded compensation for discrimination against them. The concept of “reverse” discrimination was first tested in the U.S. Supreme court case McDonald v. Santa Fe Trail Transportation Co., in which two white employees were fired for stealing cargo from a train while a third black employee was able to keep his job. The court ruled that Title VII can apply to discriminatory actions against majority individuals as well as minorities.