After six years of legal red tape, Jabari S. Jumaane’s fight for justice in a racial discrimination case against the Los Angeles Fire Department ended victoriously. The African-American ex-firefighter has been awarded $1.1 million by a civil court, LA Times reports.
In 2007, he initially lost the racial bias suit. Jumaane alleged that during his three-decade career at the LAFD, where he served as a fire inspector, he experienced a pattern of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. “He was subjected to racial slurs and jokes and that his supervisors falsified his performance evaluations, leading to suspensions and reprimands,” CBS News reports.
At the time, the jury rejected these claims and ruled in favor of the defendants who argued that Jumaane’s disciplinary record was justified and that his allegations of racial bias were false. Jumaane then decided take the case to an appeals court and the 2007 verdict was overturned. The civil court discovered that the jury from the original case engaged in unethical behavior.
“According to a 2012 report by the city’s office of the independent assessor on Fire Department litigation, […] a juror ‘claimed to have witnessed racially motivated misconduct by fellow jurors,'” the LA Times added. The re-trial — which took 16 days of deliberations — granted Jumaane $1.1 million, finally concluding the racial bias suit.
“It’s more than just a sense of gratitude, it’s a sense of vindication,” Jumaane’s attorney, Nana Gyamfi said. “As he said during the trial when he was questioned by the defense, all he was looking for was for some reasonable people to take a look at his situation and recognize the injustice within it. And that’s what happened.”
The LAFD is no stranger to being accused of racial discrimination. Tennie Pierce, a firefighter for the organization, was awarded a $1.5 million settlement after being the butt of a cruel joke: his co-workers put dog feces on his spaghetti during lunchtime at the firehouse.
“We are grateful to the jury for this historic verdict, which clearly indicts the department and the city for its systemic discrimination and retaliation against black fire members, which it has condoned and perpetuated for decades,” Gyamfi said.