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Discrimination Can Occur Against Majority Groups

When most people think of racial discrimination in the workplace, they tend to think of discrimination against minority groups. In addition, when you think of discrimination based on gender, you likely first think about discrimination against women. However, while the two above examples may occur more often, it is important to remember that employment discrimination based on protected factors can occur against majority groups, as well.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects all employees in the U.S. from discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, or religion. One recent case demonstrates how the law protects everyone and not just members of a group who are historically disadvantaged.

Wanting To “Bring Color” To The Academy

In the case of Bonenberger v. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, two police sergeants applied for the open position of Assistant Director of the St. Louis, Missouri Police Academy. One applicant was David Bonenberger, a white male, and the other was Angela Taylor, a black female. According to the court documents, when Bonenberger inquired about his chances for the position with his lieutenant, the lieutenant reportedly told him “the job was going to a black female.” When discussing the job with the current Assistant Academy Director (who was leaving the job), the same lieutenant stated there was “no way” they would hire “a white male for that position.” While neither candidate was interviewed for the job, Ser. Taylor was selected though Bonenberger had more relevant experience and other superior qualifications. Right after the selection, Bonenberger’s lieutenant explained to him that the lieutenant colonel and police chief wanted to “bring color down to the academy.”

In recent years, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has been nationally criticized and scrutinized for the allegedly racially-charged motives of its officers, including but not limited to the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown. While it may be understandable why the superior officers wanted to bring more racial diversity to the academy that trains incoming officers, it is still against the law to discriminate against any employee on the basis of race.

Bonenberger brought a claim against the police department for race discrimination as well as conspiracy to discriminate among the lieutenant, lieutenant colonel, and the police chief. At trial, a jury awarded him $620,000 in actual and punitive damages. The Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit recently upheld the verdict. This is an example of how reverse discrimination still constitutes unlawful discrimination under the law. While the above case did not occur in Florida, Florida employees can and do suffer the same type of discrimination at work on a regular basis.

Consult With An Experienced Employment Discrimination Attorney Today

Employment discrimination can come in many forms. If you are unsure whether you were the victim of unlawful discrimination in the workplace, you should discuss the circumstances with a qualified employment attorney who can evaluate whether you have a claim. Please do not hesitate to call Florida employment lawyer Robert S. Norell, P.A. for help at 305-405-9243.

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