A federal jury has awarded $1.35 million to a police lieutenant in the Long Island town of Freeport after finding that the town’s black mayor turned him down for a promotion to chief of police because he is white. A Hispanic fire department official got the job.
Lt. Christopher Barella received the top score on the police chief test. Barella holds a master’s degree in public administration and a law degree. The candidate appointed to the chief’s position has a high school education and had the third highest score among the candidates. Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick had worked with the successful candidate for several years at the city’s fire department.
Lauding the verdict, Barella’s attorney claimed the mayor had made several racially charged comments during the selection process, including stating that he wanted the police department to “look more like” the town’s citizenry.
Note: Employers need a compelling reason to reject the highest scoring candidate.