Reverse discrimination, sometimes referred to as reverse race discrimination or reverse racism, has been in the news lately, thanks to two high-profile lawsuits alleging same and summarized below.
Reverse discrimination means prejudice in employment (or education) against majority-group members due to preferential treatment of minority-group members, particularly when related to affirmative action.
Reverse discrimination sometimes occurs when employers attempt to comply with affirmative action programs in hiring, promoting, transferring and such, with little to no regard for the merits and qualifications of the job candidates and employees involved.
In one of the high-profile reverse discrimination lawsuits recently in the news, the state of New Jersey secretly settled out of court for $300,000, which is not so secret anymore. The city settled the lawsuit just before the case was to go to federal court.
Governor Paterson, the state’s first African-American governor, had fired a white, Senate photographer in 2003, when the Governor was Senate minority leader. The white photographer claimed that Paterson had fired him for no other reason than to replace him with a black photographer, who was hired shortly thereafter.
Neither Paterson nor the state admitted to any racial bias, including reverse race discrimination. However, the size of the settlement indicated that the state’s legal eagles had determined that the state’s chances of winning the case were probably slim to none.
In the other high-profile reverse discrimination lawsuit, several white firefighters (one of Hispanic descent) in New Haven, Connecticut sued the city, alleging that they were denied promotion because of preferential treatment of African-American firefighters.
The city had thrown out the results of an exam, because none of the black firefighters who took the exam scored high enough for a promotion, while most of the white firefighters did. The city claimed that it decided to scrap the exam because it was discriminatory against minorities.
In 2006 a U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the city, because no firefighter received a promotion as a result and so, the judge figured that no reverse discrimination occurred; but, the plaintiffs, some of whom might have been promoted based on their test scores, disagreed. They appealed their case all the way up to the Supreme Court, which is expected to reach a decision by the end of June.
Update: On Monday, June 29, 2009, the Supreme Court essentially ruled that the white New Haven firefighters suffered reverse discrimination. President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor had endorsed the 2006 ruling in favor of the city when she was an appeals court judge, according to the New York Times.
For more information about reverse discrimination, including the federal discrimination law that prohibits it and legal recourse (relief) available under the law, see our article simply entitled Reverse Discrimination.
Consult a lawyer for legal advice regarding reverse discrimination.