As African-American law enforcement officers slowly achieve long-denied professional advancements, a growing number of their white co-workers have been filing lawsuits alleging reverse discrimination.
Most recently, two female officers in Cincinnati filed a federal lawsuit on June 12 alleging, among other things, that the department’s affirmative action program created “an atmosphere of racial tension and in some cases open hostility between officers of different races,” WCPO-TV reported.
Behind the suit was an ongoing dispute between the white officers, Tamera Brown, and Specialist Joy Ludgatis, and their former Black female commander Lt. Danita Pettis. Brown and Ludgatis claimed in their suit that the department practices a “double standard” by favoring African-Americans over whites in hiring, promotions, discipline and benefits.
In a separate case, a federal jury recently ruled in favor of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Florida over a white deputy, Frank Voudy, who also alleged reverse discrimination. Voudy claimed that the department passed over him and instead promoted two African-American deputies who were less qualified. However, the department successfully proved that the Black officers were, in fact, better qualified than Voudy for promotions.
To put reverse discrimination suits in perspective, African-Americans filed about 80 percent of workplace racial discrimination complaints in 2016, according to federal data collected by Commercial Appeal. White workers filed second most frequently with about 12 percent.
Looking ahead, reverse discrimination suits will likely increase because the Trump administration has signaled its opposition to affirmative action programs at universities that supposedly discriminate against whites, Stanford sociology professor Aliya Saperstein told the Commercial Appeal.
It’s hard to predict how a jury will rule on Brown and Ludgatis’ lawsuit. But if the past was an indicator, it may not go well. The Ohio Civil Rights Commission dismissed their discrimination complaint in March, saying there was no evidence to support their claims. That ruling likely prompted the lawsuit.