Discrimination Lawsuit: A Tale of Two Candidates

The way the Village of Freeport tried to fight a discrimination lawsuit is CLASSIC!

Here is why they lost and had to pay $1.35 million.

The white guy in question is  Lt. Christopher Barrella, who claimed that then-Mayor Andrew Hardwick overlooked him to become chief of police so that he could name a Hispanic candidate, Miguel Bermudez to the position instead.

“The evidence was quite overwhelming leaving no doubt that Hardwick took race into account when hiring the chief of police and in many other employment decisions he made as mayor,” said Adam Weiss, one of the attorneys on Barrella’s legal team.

Further, Barella’s legal team presented evidence showing that Hardwick changed rules to allow Miguel Bermudez to apply for the chief position. According to existing rules, Bermudez did not have enough time in grade as a lieutenant to apply for the position. When you compare the two candidates, the difference is stark. Barrella scored first on the chief’s civil service exam. Barrella had the required years as a lieutenant, held a law degree and a master’s degree in public administration. He had also undergone special training at the FBI academy. By comparison, Bermudez scored third on the chief’s civil service exam, did not have the required time as lieutenant, and only held a high school diploma.

But here’s where the story gets so much better!

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When the lawsuit was initiated, Barrella’s legal team tried to argue that Bermudez was a “white” Hispanic. {Ok…stop laughing!} The irony being that clearly Hispanic Bermudez was not getting ahead because of his “Hispanicness,” but because he had white privilege as well.

“This argument was undercut by the fact that Hardwick, according to several witnesses, referred to Bermudez as Freeport’s ‘first Hispanic police chief’ on numerous occasions and also made other racially based statements,” according to a press release from Barrella’s legal team.

In addition to damages and the former mayor’s legal fees, the village will have to cover Barella’s legal fees. I can only hope that we see more of these lawsuits in order to stem the tide of picking candidates based on color, rather than ability.


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