A Middlesex County jury awarded $1.9 million to Perth Amboy police officer Guadelupe Munoz for racial insults and jokes he suffered after becoming the department’s first Mexican-American officer in 2000.
Munoz testified that Police Chief Michael Kohut made disparaging remarks during a training session, suggesting that Mexicans were thieves and members of a notorious street gang. Kohut apologized to Munoz, the department and even to the Mexican-American community after protesters rallied in the streets, calling for his resignation.
The department argued that Kohut skipped over another qualified candidate to hire Munoz.
Munoz filed a second lawsuit against the deputy police chief for retribution he says he suffered during the trial.
The case shows that, no matter how objective your employment decisions are, it only takes a handful of offensive comments to open up your organization to a $1 million verdict.